Alabama Academy of Honor


James I. Harrison, Jr.

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2007.



James I. Harrison, Jr., was born in Tuscaloosa on July 11, 1932. He attended St. John's Parochial School in Tuscaloosa and was one of the four graduates of the school's last class in 1949. After a post-graduate year at Chattanooga's Baylor School, he entered the University of Alabama where he played basketball and baseball. After two years, he transferred to Howard College (now Samford University) and graduated with honors from the School of Pharmacy.

His parents had purchased Central Drug Store in downtown Tuscaloosa and turned it into a success. When Harrison graduated from college, his father purchased another struggling drug store near the University of Alabama. Druid Drug became successful and famous as the favorite coffee hangout of Coach Bear Bryant and his staff. Three more Tuscaloosa stores were added over the next several years. In 1967, Harco, Inc., was founded. Harco, Inc., would eventually operate 153 Harco Drug stores, 55 Carport Auto Parts stores, and 7 Harco Totalcare (home healthcare) stores. The company was sold in 1997 to Rite Aid.

During Harrison's years as CEO of Harco, he served as chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Affiliated Drug Stores, and the Southern Drug Store Association. Harco and Harrison received many national business and pharmacy industry honors and awards.

Harrison's charitable spirit and support of education have dynamically impacted his community and state. He established the James I. Harrison School of Pharmacy, Auburn University; the Harrison Center for Academic Excellence, Judson College; the James I. Harrison Family Endowed Teaching Excellence Faculty Fellow, University of Alabama; and the Caritas Community Service Award, University of Alabama. Harrison is a member and past chairman of the UA President's Cabinet. He is a founding member of Success by Six Educational Initiative in Tuscaloosa County; a founding member and first president of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society chapter supporting United Way of West Alabama; and a member of the Mayor's Pre-K Advisory Board, Tuscaloosa. He is a patron to Children's Hands-on Museum and to the UA Rural Infant Stimulation Environmental Center.

He holds honorary doctorates from the University of Alabama and Judson College, is in several business and civic halls of fame, and serves on many corporate and civic boards. Harrison and his wife, Peggy, have five children and fifteen grandchildren.