Finding a road back

Terry Harris of Angleton has been an irreplaceable figure in his community, helping people wherever he is needed while living on the phrase "every day is a good day."

Angleton's Terry Harris has been figure of compassion, helpfulness and goodwill to his community.

Working for the City of Angleton, he comes across many different people. Harris' passion to love and help anyone he comes in contact with catalyzes his daily phrase: "Every day is a good day."

"I'm from Angleton and I've been here almost all my life," Harris said. "I try and go out and help people. People look up to me and I look up to other people too and it starts off with young people. You have to treat everyone the same — doing it from your heart, not your head."

Harris goes out of his way to mow lawns all over town and help people with anything they need, whether it's problems with appliances, cars or just daily reminders they are loved by someone.

"My family looks up to me. I don't care what happens, they always call me," Harris said. "I had a niece see an alligator on the side of the road and she called me just because she didn't know who else to call."

Everyone, the young and the old, in the Angleton community call him because they know he'll do whatever he can to help and they know he'll be there, no matter what, he said.

When he helps people, Harris knows some people want to pay him, but his main goal is for others to "help someone else and keep the ball rolling," he said.

Harris has been a critical figure in the Angleton community, but he's had obstacles he's had to overcome to become the person he is today.

"At the age of 29, I had worked for the City of Angleton for eight years and got on drugs really bad," Harris said. "I walked the streets for about 12 years, and when I tell you I walked the streets — I had nothing."

Day after day for over a decade, Harris embarked on his drug-induced journey while trying to provide for his family. It wasn't until he went to a family reunion in Tampa, Florida, he turned his life around.

"One of my cousins, whose name was also Terry, was going to North Dakota and someone was supposed to help him drive, but he backed out at the last minute," Harris said. "So he asked me, 'Just help me drive to North Dakota and I'll buy you a bus ticket back home,' so I ended up going."

While on their way, the car broke down in South Dakota and they had to have a friend pick them up and drive them to the home of one of his cousin's best friends, and he and his cousin's friends hit it off.

Soon, Harris was living in North Dakota, where he met his wife, Janice. They married within a few months of him living in the northern state, a lifelong love which lasted until her death July 10 due to sickness.

"My wife was supportive. She was raised in the country with a strict lifestyle," Harris said. "She had my back on a lot of things, but women will be women and let you know when you're wrong. But she was so supportive of me. I just know God said it was her time for a reason."

Living in Valley City, North Dakota, for two years, it was the stepping stone that changed his life for the better.

He believes God's will got him out of his cycle of drug use and into a better life helping people throughout multiple walks of life, he said.

"I thank God for everything he did for me because it's been a journey," Harris said. "I try to treat people right because if you treat people right, you're going to get treated right. There's always going to be that one person who doesn't treat you right and that's the person you have to go out of your way for."

Now in his second stint as a city employee, he's become a key part of the community.

He's also a deacon at New Bethel Baptist Church in Angleton.

"I'm not putting myself up for things, but I've been treated right and I treat people right," Harris said. "I always try to tell a person that I love them and to have a good day."

The love he spreads throughout the community and other to whomever he meets is genuine and that goes a long way, especially saying it to people who might not hear it as much.

For Harris, spreading love to the young men in the community is something he is proud of.

"It's usually hard for a man to tell another man 'I love you' because it's uncomfortable or because they're not used to hearing it," Harris said. "But I tell them all the time and to have a good day and now the more I say it, the more they say it back because they know I mean it from the heart. And that's a big difference."

As a leader in the community through action and the support of his family, Harris wants people to see him as an embodiment of love and compassion.

"I want to be remembered as a loving dad, a loving husband and a loving papa," Harris said. "Someone who would just go out of their way to help somebody. I want people to say 'I wish I could be like Terry' and just go help somebody."

Harris' journey in life has given him "the ability to look past people's flaws and past the people that have wronged him and forgive them," said Harris daughter, Janetha Harris-Petry.

It's one of the reasons she, their family and the community looks up to him and why he's been someone that people want to be like.

"Somebody has to lead a trail. You have all this bush in life, but if you let someone come and cut through there, the rest will follow, especially if you're going down a good path," Harris said. "I try to tell everyone my story because it keeps me straight. I'll always remember where I came from."

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