Mr. Bishop (GA) – Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a beloved educator, inspiring role model and gracious woman of faith, Mrs. Cecilia Arleen McIntyre Harbison. Sadly, Mrs. Harbison passed away on Wednesday, March 21, 2012. On Wednesday, March 28, 2012, Mrs. Harbison’s funeral will be held in Columbus, Georgia, where her family, friends and colleagues will honor her life and legacy of good deeds.
Mrs. Harbison was born on February 21, 1950 to Jesse and Emma McIntyre in Thomasville, Georgia. Following her birth, the family moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where she attended Booker T. Washington High School and was voted “Miss Sweetheart” of her senior class. After she obtained her high school diploma she enrolled in Alabama State University in the fall of 1968.
On December 20, 1970, she married Ed Harbison at the historic Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. served as a pastor from 1954 to 1960 and organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955.
In 1973, Mrs. Harbison and her husband moved to Columbus, Georgia, where she continued her college education and later graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education from Columbus State University. She would go on to also earn her Master’s degree in Counseling from Troy University. In addition to her undergraduate and graduate degrees, Mrs. Harbison also earned Leadership Certifications from the Georgia School Counselors Association in Crisis Intervention, Cultural Diversity, Drug and Alcohol Intervention/Prevention, and Family Counseling.
Dr. Maya Angelou once said that: “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” Cecilia used her life and educational skills to throw something back to her community. She served as an educator/counselor in the Muscogee County School System; public relations official in the Gwinnett County School System; and as job developer for the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education. She was involved in many organizations that were dedicated to helping people to reach their full potential.
Cecilia loved her family and she loved her God. She knew that these were two loves that would put you on the path to greatness. Her special relationship with God began as a young teen at Bethany Seventh Day Adventist Church in Montgomery and continued when she moved to Columbus and became affiliated with the Sheppard Drive Seventh Day Adventist Church. In her later years, she continued her relationship with God as a member of Kingdom Metropolitan Worship Center. She was a special woman who supported her husband and children in all of their endeavors.
Cecilia was a fighter. Throughout her illness, she never gave up and kept on fighting the good fight. The Apostle Paul as he neared the end of this life penned the following words: “For I am ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, and I have kept the faith: Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” Cecilia fought the good fight, finished her course and always kept the faith. And by the grace of God she has now claimed her crown!
Mr. Speaker, my wife Vivian and I, along with the almost 700,000 people in the Second Congressional District of Georgia, would like to extend our deepest sympathies to her husband, State Senator Ed Harbison, Cecilia’s children, and other family members during this difficult time. May they be consoled and comforted by their abiding faith and the Holy Spirit in the days, weeks and months ahead.