Letitia Moran Harris would make the perfect ‘Sandy’ in the movie 'Grease'. She has a certain innocence in her overall demeanor with a competing alter ego resembling Xena: Warrior Princess. Harris’ two interwoven personas makes it hard to forget her tenacity and kindness as a person and a friend.
The reference to Sandy in Grease is drawn from her unbelievable singing voice. It’s hard to forget her rich, full tone as she sang solos in the Paducah Tilghman High School Choir. Under the direction of Loretta Whitaker, Harris would standout among many of her fellow choir members. Not because she tried to, just because she did.
Whitaker was a masterful choral director. Harris said, “She gave me the opportunity to try out for All State Choir my sophomore year. She knew how to get the most out of her students.”
Opportunities came fast for Harris her first year of high school. It was during her 10th grade year, a mutual friend introduced her to Steve Harris. Their first date was a Valentine’s Dance and ‘cupid drew back his bow and let his arrow go’ straight into both of their hearts sparking a five year romance and igniting a successful 37 years marriage. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
After graduating from PTHS, Harris attended Murray State University on a voice scholarship...no surprise, she loved to sing. After declaring a major in music, Harris soon found that it ‘wasn’t for her’ and switched to interior design. “I found out that being a music major was more than just singing, it was writing and composing music, playing a musical instrument, both of which I had no interest in.” said Harris.
Changing majors in college is a ‘big deal’ when you’re on a scholarship. Harris had to ‘buck up’ and find a way to pay tuition. After giving back her scholarship, she got a job as secretary to an MSU professor. Somewhere between Harris’ sophomore and junior year, she quit school and married ‘the one’. Cupid hit his target and in 1983, the couple said, “I do”.
The newlyweds lived in Louisville, Kentucky while Steve was attending UofL School of Dentistry. Harris got a job working full-time, paying the bills and helping Steve pay for dental school.
In 1986, Steve partnered with another dentist and started his first practice. In 1988, he opened his own dental office and Harris became the practice manager. Harris said, “It’s been a blessing working with Steve all of these years.” The two have worked side-by-side since opening the office in Paducah.
The couple have two sons, Zach and Eli. Zach is married and lives in Nashville. Eli is engaged and plans to marry in the Spring of 2021.
Zach has followed in his mother’s musical footsteps, tackling Nashville as a songwriter. He’s a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and collaborates with many other writers. Currently, he’s writing more as a hobby than a full-time gig.
Eli intended on following in his dad’s footsteps and majored in Pre-Dental Biology. After graduating from MSU, he opted to buy his own business, and is currently the CEO and President of West KY Drug and Alcohol Screen in Paducah.
As part of ‘giving back’ the Harris’ participate in regular mission trips to Honduras providing free medical care to a children’s home. Each year many dentists embark on mission trips to provide care in foreign countries. It’s not just about extracting teeth, it’s providing oral care for periodontal disease and other oral health problems that are preventable with good education.
The Harris’ support “I Am” (Idols Aside Ministries) in Paducah. “I AM” is a ministry that introduces fatherless youth to Christ through sports camps, outdoor retreats, and a mentor program specifically geared for youth aging-out of foster care. The program is a 501(c)(3) that offers spiritual guidance, emotional support, and mentoring to struggling, fatherless, youth. It’s a Christ-centered ministry.
The ministry is promoting a virtual event Tuesday, November 10, sharing stories from western Kentucky and central Florida. The program originated in Florida and expanded into our area in 2017. Guests expected are Brandon Cooks and Lance Berkman. Cooks is a wide receiver with the Houston Texans. Berkman or ‘Big Puma’ is a former professional baseball player.
Harris has been active in church ministry all of her life. She’s been in the church choir for 34 years at Southland Baptist Temple. Her golden voice with the wide vocal range plays a huge role in the church’s annual “The Gift” performance.
“The Gift” is a production about the life story of Christ from birth to resurrection. Over 150 members participate from actors, makeup artists, set design, lighting, and livestock handlers. The production has been ongoing for a number of years.
This year's production of "The Gift" will be a drive-thru. Dates are December 3 through December 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Southland Baptist Temple in Paducah.
Harris enjoys beach vacations in Florida’s panhandle, needlework, crafting, singing, cooking and being a grandma. She said, “The Lord has been good to me and my family. I attribute it all to Him.”
As with all of us, the Harris’ haven’t come away completely unscathed in regards to the coronavirus. Last spring, dental offices were one of the first medical practices to shutter due to the pandemic. Harris said, “The practice closed for eight weeks and it was the first time we had to lay-off employees,” she continued, “We still felt blessed with our awesome patients and loyal employees.”
“I attribute it all to Him,” said Harris. Faith is the most important aspect of Harris’ life. “God, family, church,” is the order by which she lives her life. “I attribute these values to having a successful marriage and the only way to do life.”
Harris is a one of a kind person and everybody that knows her loves her. She’s another shining example of the fine character exemplified in students that graduate from Paducah Tilghman High School. PTHS is a school that takes pride in its students, teachers, and administrators. It’s been ‘that kind of school’ for generations.