Riceboro mayor dies of COVID complications

Local News

RICEBORO, Ga. (WSAV) — Riceboro Mayor Joe Harris died Tuesday morning from complications from COVID-19. He was 35.

Flags at Riceboro City Hall flew at half staff Tuesday afternoon.

Harris became ill last week but many in the community didn’t know he was sick.

“Well, people are offering condolences and asking questions,” said Riceboro Mayor Pro-Tem Pearlie Axson. “And we don’t have a lot of answers. We do know that he was hospitalized recently with COVID-19 and was on a respirator.”

Axson said Harris died at Liberty Regional Medical Center in Hinesville.

Harris had been mayor of Riceboro since January 2020. He taught at Lyman Hall Elementary in Hinesville and, according to Axson, was also a minister. She said Harris, a Riceboro native, had attended Savannah State University.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson reacted to the news Tuesday morning, saying he had met Harris.

“I enjoyed knowing him. He was a bright young man who had some exuberance about his community,” said Johnson. “COVID continues to wreak havoc in our communities. Riceboro has lost its public servant and lost its leader.”

As of Tuesday, there were 21,563 people in Georgia who have died from COVID, according to the Department of Public Health. Now the name of Riceboro Mayor Joe Harris has been added to the list.

Axson says the council will meet soon to determine the next step and whether a special election is in order.

“I would just like for the people of the community and all of Georgia, keep the mayor and his family and the city of Riceboro in their prayers,” she said.

State Rep. Carl Gilliard of Garden City also send WSAV this statement:

Today we have truly lost the greatness of possibilities in the passing of Mayor Joseph Harris. Mayor Harris was a hardworking public servant who served to the best of his ability, and gave so much of his time and heart to this community.

Mayor Harris mission, vision and goals were designed to make the city a desirable place to live and visit.

The entire state and nation mourns in his passing and we offer our sincere condolences and prayers to the Harris family.

State Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City)

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