Lt. Col. Harry J. Suggs, Jr. (Ret.)
April 24, 1929 – September 22, 2017
Lt. Col. Harry Jenkins Suggs, Jr., 88, passed away September 22, 2017 in Bryan, TX.
Harry was born to Harry Jenkins and Mary Rhyne (Faires) Suggs on April 24, 1929 in Gastonia, North Carolina. His father worked at Cocker Machine & Foundry Company of Gastonia, NC and died when Harry was 14. After his death, his mother got a job in the office of a textile mill. Harry grew up during the depression in the only house on a single lane paved road in the middle of a cotton field. His first paid job was picking cotton for ten cents per hundred pounds. Harry and his best buddy, Bob Payne, used to ride their bikes all over Gaston County and went fishing, hunting, and hiking together. He started playing the trumpet in fifth grade and continued playing in high school and college. He did well academically in high school, particularly math and science.
In 1946, Harry graduated high school and went to North Carolina State College in Raleigh, NC. He was in ROTC all four years. He graduated from college in 1950 with a Bachelors Degree in Chemical Engineering and as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve. After college, he worked at E.I. Du Pont in their explosives department in New Jersey for several years. He then decided to try something different and took a job at Liberty Mutual Insurance Company where he learned about safety engineering and became interested in industrial hygiene. This job took him back to North Carolina and later up to Boston, MA.
In 1956, he got called up for active duty as a Sanitary and Industrial Hygiene Engineer in the Medical Services Corp of the United States Air Force, and in February 1957 received orders to report to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
While in Dayton, during the summer of 1958, Harry met Ruth Halteman on a blind date set up by Ruth’s aunt and a mutual friend from church. From that July day until Ruth had to go back to her teaching job in Delaware, Harry and Ruth were together almost constantly. After many letters back and forth, they became engaged on Thanksgiving with plans to get married the following year. However, when Harry got orders to report to Tachikawa AFB, near Toyko, Japan in February 1959, wedding plans were quickly revised. They got married on January 10, 1959 and moved to Japan where they stayed three years. During that time, their daughter Carol was born. Their travels continued with time spent in Nashville, TN where Harry received his Master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and son Jim was born. They made a return move to Dayton, OH; spent six years in Sacramento, CA; and had an exciting two-year adventure at Clark AFB in the Philippines. Harry’s final assignment was in San Antonio, TX. In 1978, he retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel after 21 years of service. The family moved to College Station, TX that same year when Harry took a position as a Lecturer at Texas A&M University in the department of Industrial Engineering. He retired from A&M in 1989.
During retirement, he and Ruth continued to be world travelers until Ruth’s death August 2, 2006.
In addition to traveling, Harry enjoyed playing bridge and attending plays and concerts. He collected stamps and coins; both accumulated into impressive collections. Harry would also spend hours on genealogy, researching both his and Ruth’s ancestors. He was a long-time, active member of Peace Lutheran Church, College Station, TX.
On June 21, 2008, at age 79, he married Delilah Brandon in a ceremony in Gastonia, NC. He had known Delilah for 70 years since their mothers were best of friends and he and Delilah had gone to high school together. She followed him back to College Station and together their travels included a European cruise and several trips to visit both sets of children, including grandchildren’s graduations and weddings.
Harry’s survivors include his wife Delilah Suggs; daughter Carol Slough of Champaign, IL; son Jim Suggs (his wife Karen) of Canton, MI; and three grandchildren: Melissa Johnson (her husband Ben) of Plymouth, MN; Molly Slough of St. Louis Park, MN; and Kate Suggs of Canton, MI. Memorials may be made to Peace Lutheran Church Endowment Fund, 2201 Rio Grande Blvd, College Station TX 77845 or to the Hospice Brazos Valley, 502 W. 26th St., Bryan, TX 77802.
A visitation will be held from 5:30-7:30 PM on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at Hillier Funeral Home of Bryan. Funeral services will begin at 10 AM on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at Peace Lutheran Church with a reception to immediately follow. Graveside services and Final Air Force Honors will begin at 1 PM at College Station City Cemetery.