William Arch Harrison

Portrait of William Arch Harrison Headstone Photograph

William Arch
Apr. 8, 1910
Oct. 27, 1994

Emily Harrison
Sept. 22, 1912

Back of headstone

William A Harrison
Capt US Army
World War II
Apr 8 1910 - Oct 27 1994
Full Name: William Arch Harrison
Location: Section:Patriots' Hill, Section 1 (A)
Row:P  Number:26
Reason for Eligibility: Governor's Proclamation 
Birth Date: April 8, 1910 
Died: October 27, 1994 
Burial Date: October 29, 1994 

HARRISON, WILLIAM ARCH (1910-1994) ~ William Arch Harrison was born April 8, 1910, in Upshur County, Gilmer, Texas to Arch A. Harrison and Myrtie Denson Harrison. William attended public school and graduated from Gilmer High School with honors. He was the Senior Class President of 1928. After graduating high school, William entered the University of Texas in 1929, where he graduated again with honors in 1932, with a Bachelor‘s in Business Administration. While a student at the University of Texas, William obtained a postion as night watchman for the State Treasury in 1930, beginning his long career with the state. At his job he was permitted to keep a cot in the Treasury where he could study and, as he sometimes liked to say, “sleep on the job.” After graduation, William became an accountant in the State Treasure‘s office, where he shortly held the position of Chief Accountant.

The following year, in 1933, he married Emily Eaton Harrison, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R.B. Harrison of Waco, Texas. The two had three sons: William A. Harrison, Jr., John R. Harrison, and Charles D. Harrison.

In 1937, William became a Certified Public Accountant becoming a member of the Texas Society of Public Accountants in 1939, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in 1945. In 1941, William transferred from the State Treasurer‘s office to the State Comptroller of Public Accounts office as Chief Auditor, serving one year there before enlisting in the United States Army.

He enlisted as a Captain in the Eighth Service Command for the duration of WWII. In 1946, after his discharge from the Army, William set up an accounting practice in Austin, Texas with the firm George R. Donnell and Associates.

In 1947, William served as First Assistant State Auditor where he supervised and conducted several major audits, including those of the Veteran Land Program, the Duval County public schools, the State Insurance Commission and other programs. In 1949 and 1950, William took leave from the Auditor‘s Office to help establish the Texas Education Agency under the Gilmer-Aiken law, serving as the Agency‘s first business manager.

In 1957, William became the Texas State Insurance Commissioner, the first person to serve in that position. The position was created when the Legislature revised the insurance code and established the State Board of Insurance, after audits had disclosed evidence of questionable activity and wrongdoing under the state‘s previous organization for insurance regulation. William held the position until 1963.

After his retirement from the State Department of Insurance, William worked twelve more years for the City of Austin, serving as Auditor, Assistant Director of Finance and Director of Finance. Following his retirement from that position, he served several more years as a part-time consultant to the City.

Throughout his life, William was part of several professional and civil activities. These include the Secretary-Treasurer of the Northwest Austin Civic League; Director of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants; Director, Secretary, and President (1956-1957), of the Austin Chapter, Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants; Member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Public Employees Association; Member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Public Employees Credit Union; President and Member of the Board of Directors of the Austin Municipal Federal Credit Union; Member and Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Texas Retired Employees Association; Board Member, Member of the Executive Committee, Interim Director, Member and Chairman of the Allocation Committee, of the United Way of Travis County; Financial Consultant to the Austin Natural Science Center; and Member of the Advisory Board as well as the financial consultant to the City of Austin Recreation Department senior citizen program.

In 1985, William was honored as the Outstanding United Way Volunteer in Travis County. In addition to his many professional and civic duties, William also served as a trustee to the Tejas Foundation for more than 30 years. The Tejas Foundation sponsors the Tejas Club, which is composed of outstanding male students of modest means at the University of Texas.

During his life, William remained a devout member of the First United Methodist Church of Austin for more than 45 years. There, he served as the advisor to the church business manager and was a member and chairman of the church finance committee for more than 20 years. He served two five-year terms as a member and three years as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Church Endowment Fund, until July of 1994.

In addition to all his work, William loved to play as well. He was an avid gardener as well as a freshwater fisherman. He enjoyed the finer things, such as reading, traveling, playing bridge and dominoes and spending time with his beloved grandchildren fishing on Lake Travis.

William Arch Harrison died on October 27, 1994, in his home and was interred at the Texas State Cemetery October 29, 1994.

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