Lillian Taylor Milam Harrison (97) passed away peacefully on July 15th, 2023, with her family lovingly by her side. She was a beloved mother, grandmother, great and great great grandmother.
Born June 7th, 1926, in Jacksonville, FL, Lillian, was adopted at 7 months old, by Arthur and Rhea Milam, through The Children’s Home Society. Her father, being the current Speaker of The House in Tallahassee, moved their family to Tampa, FL, to develop Davis Island. Upon their return to Jacksonville, during the Great Depression, Lillian’s parents adopted another daughter, Arden. The two sisters enjoyed their childhood years in Jacksonville while vacationing at the beautiful seaside town of Fernandina Beach.
At the age of 12, she began her love for drawing, painting, crafts, and flower design. She went on to pursue her passion for the arts by attending Anderson Jr. College in Anderson, S.C., Brenau College in Gainesville, FL, and Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL, where she was the first co-ed attending class and a member of Alpha Delta Pi Sorority.
In January of 1947, Lillian married her best friend’s brother, Joseph Ray Harrison (Ray), after his return from serving in the US Army during WWII. The two of them welcomed their first child in December of 1947 and continued to grow their family over the next 18 years, being blessed with 7 children. She was the President of the PTA at West Riverside School and Lee High School. She also was an active member of the Junior League.
In the Spring of 1971, Lillian opened her tearoom and catering company, “This Old House”, that was soon featured in Southern Living Magazine.
In 1980, Lillian and Ray decided to move their family to Jacksonville Beach to enjoy a simpler life where they watched their children, and many grandchildren, grow in the community. It was there she opened a 2nd “This Old House” tearoom that she ran though the late 80’s.
After the passing of her husband in 1984, Lillian continued her life at the beach becoming extremely active as 4 term President of the Jacksonville Beach Woman’s Club (life member), President of The Garden Circle (life member), the First Coast Parliamentarian Club, and the Beaches League of Storytellers. She also worked in the front office for many years at Nancy Dance Studio.
In 1997, Lillian moved to Pablo Towers where she lived until her passing. She was one of the longest living residents of the senior community and served as an active member and twice President of the Auxiliary board. In addition, she was an active member of Community Presbyterian Church in Atlantic Beach.
For many years, Lillian had an interest in finding her biological family. Through the help of her daughters and the internet, she located her half-sister, Margaret, her niece, and many cousins. For over 25 years they were blessed to have a welcoming and loving relationship.
Lillian lived an abundant and impactful life. She was known for the loyalty and steadfastness she exemplified in all her relationships. She loved her friends and family with her “whole heart” and her sharpness and “wit” shined diligently to the very end. Lillian, best known to most as “Memaw”, left an amazing legacy that will carry on forever.
She is survived by her 7 children:
Sandra H Christman, husband, Larry Christman (predeceased), Mary Catherine (Cathy) Harrison, Joseph Ray (Jay) Harrison III, Patricia (Patty) Harrison, Arthur Yeager (AY) Harrison, wife, Leigh Ann Harrison, Nancy H Tuttle, husband, Doug Tuttle, and Lisa H Thornton, husband, Steve Thornton.
Chrissy Cashman, Heather Land, Katie Norris, Kevin Christman, Taylor Maris, Tyler Fraser, Kristen Tuttle, Dayna Tranter, Alex Harrison, Samantha Miller, Joseph Harrison, Zachary Thornton, and Abagail Harrison
19 great grandchildren, 1 great great grandchild, and multiple nieces, nephews and cousins.
She is predeceased by: her husband, Joseph Ray Harrison Jr; parents, Arthur and Rhea Milam; sister, Arden Forner; sister-in-law, Patricia VanEepoel; her birth mother, Elizabeth Copeland; half sister, Margaret McDaniel, and her granddaughter, Courtney Jordan.
Lillian’s celebration of life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Monday, July 31st at Community Presbyterian Church, 150 Sherry Drive, Atlantic Beach, FL 32233, with a reception to follow in the church hall.
Donations can be made in her memory to The Children’s Home Society of Florida at chsfl.org.