Orester Jeremiah Harper
Orester Jeremiah Harper
  • July 27, 1925 - June 12, 2017
  • Alabama

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Orester J. Harper, Sr., of Ozark, died Monday, June 12, 2017 at his residence. He was 91.

Funeral services will be held 10:00 a.m. Friday, June 16, 2017 in the Earl Bankston Memorial Chapel of Fuqua-Bankston Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Noah Reeves officiating. Burial will follow in Woodlawn Memorial Gardens with Fuqua-Bankston Funeral Home directing. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the "Orester J. Harper, Sr. Good Grades Scholarship Fund," c/o Wells Fargo Bank, 293 Andrews Ave., Ozark, AL 36360.

Orester Jeremiah Harper, Sr. was born in Dale County, Alabama, the son of the late Noah Permillion Harper and Roachie (Canada) Harper. His early education was at Klondike Elementary and Ozark City School (Colored). He was in high school when he was drafted into the Navy to complete his military service obligation. Two years later, he returned to high school, finished, and went to college, where he worked two jobs to supplement his income.

He earned a B.S. Degree, from Alabama State University and a M.S. Degree from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Orester was the recipient of the National Science Foundation Stipend at Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, Alabama A&M University and Antioch College. He received his certification in Secondary Education, Science and Mathematics, English (grades 9-12) and Administration and Supervision.

In the same week of his graduation from college, Orester married his childhood sweetheart Brenda Joyce Roberts of Ozark, the daughter of the late Reverend James Murry Roberts and wife, Dollie (Waters) Roberts.

Orester was a member of the Union Grove Baptist Church. He served 35 years as the Adult Sunday School Teacher, was Co-Chairman of the Deacons Board, Chairman of the Building Committee, President of the Senior Bible Club and conducted weekly Bible study classes.

He was highly involved within the community having participated in many local, civic, and charitable activities. He gave "Good Grades Money" to students who made the honor roll. He was a Boy Scout leader, a member of the Alabama State University Alumni Association and a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He was a Commander-In-Chief for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and on the Barbour, Dale, and Henry County Headstart Hiring Boards. He was a participant for the Dale County Draft Board, Southeast Alabama Planning Development Commission, Dale County Planning Commission and the Agriculture Stabilization Conservation Service.

He was also a member of the Dale County Retired Teachers Association, the Alabama Retired Teachers Association, the National Education Association, Legislative Committee DCRTA, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

Oresters' professional involvements include, Basketball Official, Basketball Coach, Science and Mathematics Teacher, President of Dale County Teachers' Association (first President after integration), President of the District 9 Science Fair, Principal of Skipperville Junior High School, Principal of Mack M. Matthews High School and Assistant Principal of Dale County High School.

A group of concerned former students of the Pinckard-Newton-Midland City area established the Orester J. Harper Scholarship Fund. He was also presented with the Outstanding Community Service Award by the Dale County Democratic Conference.

Orester was cited in the late 50's as having the greatest science laboratory in the state of Alabama. Tucker, a student of his, went to Alabama A&M College and excelled in Agronomy because of an unusually strong science background. Another student, now a minister, said, "I wouldn't be where I am today if it hadn't been for Mr. Harper's application of the board of education."

Survivors include his devoted and loving wife whom he called his Queen, Brenda Joyce Roberts Harper of Ozark, AL; his children, Orester Jeremiah Harper, Jr. (Jennifer) of Phoenix, AZ and Oretha Joycelyn Harper of Ozark, AL; his grandchildren, Orester Jeremiah Harper , III (Joyce) of Phoenix, AZ and Tanisha Mariko Harper of Los Angeles, CA; one great-grandchild, Jackson Jeremiah Harper of Phoenix, AZ two brothers, Noah Harper, Jr. and Edgar D. Harper (Mae Lue) of Ozark, AL; one sister, Mollie Brinson of Ozark, AL; brother-in-law, James Maurice Roberts (Gracie) of Dothan, AL and sister-in-law, Abigail Roberts Jones of Ozark, AL; numerous nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.