NBC newman Don Harris remembered as man with tremendous curiosity

VIDALIA, Ga., Nov. 23, 1978 (UPI) -- NBC newsman Don Harris, slain while investigating a fanatical religious cult in Guyana last week, was eulogized in final rites as a man with a consuming curiosity about the world around him. "He was a man of exceptional curiosity and one who always had more questions than answers," said colleague Jack Perkins of Los Angeles, one of about two dozen NBC executives who attended the funeral yesterday.

More than 300 mourners gathered at the First Baptist Church of Vidalia on the town square, less than two miles from the radio station where Harris worked as a disc jockey to earn pocket cash in high school. It was there he got his first taste of broadcast journalism.


Perkins said it was Harris' quest for truth that led the 42-year-old newsman to the Guyana jungles and his death just before the murder-suicide of the Rev. Jim Jones and more than 400 members of his cult.

Perkins said Harris had been investigating reports that Jones and armed guards were physically and sexually abusing followers who had tried to defect. And despite warnings from cult defectors that Jones was dangerous, Harris pursued his investigation.


After the ceremony, Harris' wife Shirley left the church carrying a large black-and-white photograph of her husband while their son, 17-year-old Jeffery, who is also in broadcasting while attending school at Waco, Texas, carried a golden urn containing his father's remains. Harris' daughters, Claire, 16, and Lauren, 13, also attended the ceremony.

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