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William James Harlan
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Obituary for William James Harlan

Bill (William James) Harlan, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away on Friday, April 7, 2017. Services will be 10:30 a.m., Thursday, April 13, at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church.

Bill was born September 17, 1932, in Indianapolis, Indiana to Francis Duncan and Scott C. Harlan. The family moved to Waco in October 1948 when Bill was a junior in High School. Bill graduated from LaVega High School and entered Baylor University in the fall of 1950. He completed a B.B.A. Degree in Personnel Management in March 1955. Bill attended graduate school in 1961 while employed at Texas A&M. While attending Baylor University, he enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1953 as a member of the 420th Engineering Brigade and then entered active duty in 1955. He remained in the Army Reserve for nine years until discharged. The day after discharge from the Army Reserve, Bill entered the U.S. Navy serving until November 1978, completing 25 years of military service. Bill retired as a Chief Petty officer working in personnel matters at various naval air stations.

Bill was married to the love of his life, Nancy Smith Harlan for 61 years. They have two children, a daughter, Lee Lowe and a son, Scott Harlan. He will be missed and remembered for his giving heart, guidance and wisdom.

Bill was employed as the manager of the Houston County Chamber of Commerce in Crockett, Texas from 1957-1960. He then became a research assistant at Texas A&M until 1964 while he attended graduate school. After leaving Texas A&M, he became the Director of Administrative Services in the Development Department at Baylor University beginning in 1964 and retired from Baylor University in 2000. He was involved with the Baylor Student Foundation beginning in 1969 and devoted many hours to this organization that he helped establish and loved. He will be missed by all of the students that he came in contact with through his work with the foundation. Bill loved the Baylor Bears and everything green and gold. After retiring from Baylor, he worked for Bird-Kultgen-Ford and Allen Samuels Chevrolet.

Bill was a member of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church since 1964 and worked in the College Department for 30 years. He was known as the donut man by the students for bringing 25 dozen donuts each Sunday. He was a devoted member of the church and spent many hours volunteering and helping those in need. Bill gave back to the community throughout his life working with United Way for 35 years.

He is survived by his wife, Nancy; daughter, Lee Lowe and husband, Tim; son, Scott, and wife, Tonya and granddaughter, Danielle.

A special thank you to Dr. Ron Wilson and the staff and physicians at Waco-Lakeshore Fresenius Medical Center.

Memorials may be made to the Bill and Nancy Harlan-Student Foundation Scholarship at Baylor University, University Development, One Bear Place #97050, Waco, Texas 76798-7026, or Columbus Ave. Baptist Church, 1300 Columbus Ave., Waco, Texas 76701.

The family invites you to leave a message or memory on our “Tribute Wall” at

To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of William James Harlan, please visit our Tribute Store.

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10:30 AM
Columbus Avenue Baptist Church

1300 Columbus Avenue
Waco, TX 76701


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