F. Woodrow Harris, Former US Chess Secretary, Dies at 65

F. Woodrow "Woody" Harris, who was US Chess Secretary from 1984-1987, has died at age 65 in Emporia, Virginia.

His death was reported in the Emporia Independent Messenger. Harris was a city councilman in Emporia for more than 30 years. An obituary was also posted here

Harris' tournament history can be found here

Former US Chess president Steve Doyle writes, "Woody was the faithful secretary of US Chess and he pushed us to buy the Morphy silver which in historical importance was hugely important. He loved chess and was a huge supporter of our federation. He also loved Emporia a great little town in Virginia.  He loved people and helped everyone, from a child that wanted a gift for mom for Christmas to a family that was homeless.  A great man. He will be missed."

Former US Chess executive director Al Lawrence writes, "[Harris] combined serious commitment to chess and people in general with a wonderful, pridefulness-popping and infectious sense of humor."

Don Schultz wrote in his 1997 "President's Report": "Two years ago, USCF delegates formed a "Blue Ribbon" reorganization committee. For their dedication to this task, I wish to thank committee chairman Woody Harris and the other members of his committee: Steve Doyle, Tom Dorsch, Helen Warren, Warren Pinches and Frank Camaratta. Their recommendations represent major changes to the structure of the USCF and should be carefully considered."

US Chess offers its condolences to Woody Harris' family and friends.


Woody was a pillar of positive interaction and integrity in turbulent political environments both inside and outside of chess. He did much to prevent chess volunteers from becoming discouraged by the negativity they sometimes encountered. He did much to promote the early growth of the US Chess Hall of Fame. He firmly believed and understood that persons of different views, parties, and factions could and should listen to each other, seek compromise, and remain respectful of each other even when middle ground was hard to find. Among his accomplishments it should be noted that he was a Presidential Elector in the extremely close 2000 election. He was trusted with the important task of coordinating all Virginia's Electors to assure strict compliance with constitutional procedures.    John McCrary, Past USCF President

I arrived in Virginia in 2003 and "Woody" was one of the principal chess personalities I came to know, one whose reputation was impeccable. He will be sorely missed in his local community, across the Commonwealth's player community, and among those in US Chess who knew him.

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