Jim Harris, 68, owner of Charlie’s Chicken West, has passed away from a combination of pneumonia and COVID-19, according to family and friends.
Harris, ex-son-in-law of Charlie’s Chicken founder Charles Randolph, had ownership in multiple businesses across this part of the state. He went to the hospital last week with chest pains, and was later diagnosed with the diseases that claimed his life.
“He was just a great guy,” Donnie Madewell, a longtime friend, said. “He is sure going to be missed.
Harris was also a partner in Muskogee stalwart Hamlin’s El Toro.
UPDATE: Harris’s daughter, Holly Stern, called to add some details.
“He had multiple COVID tests, all negative,” she said. “At first, the doctors said one thing, then another, that it was a sinus infection, the pneumonia, but it wasn’t until the sixth test that they realized it was COVID.”
Harris was in the hospital for 14 days.
“He was a great philanthropist for our community,” she said. “He gave to pretty much everyone, but he really enjoyed helping children; not just one, but whole teams. He wanted to give where it would help the most people.”
Harris, who opened the Charlie’s West location in 1981, also had ownership in Kilharen’s Lodge before it was sold to Timothy Baptist Church, and in JL’s Barbecue in Pryor.
He was a freemason and a shriner. Locally, his favorite group to support was the Future Farmers of America.
“He was very active in FFA in high school,” Stern said. “He held several offices.”
But his lasting legacy will be in the family he left behind.
“As good a businessman and philanthropist as he was, he was an even better father and grandfather,” she said, sniffing back tears. “And he always treated our employees as family.”