Our Beth Harris and the Asbestos Removal Days at DeKalb College South Campus



Nearly everyone at GPC knows Beth Harris, who works in the District Budget Office, as one of the nicest and most capable staff members at the College.  Beth has the patience of Job and calmly explains budget procedures to colleagues who are challenged in this area and she always has a wonderful spirit of service.


Soon after she graduated from Walker High School, Beth worked in the DeKalb County School system for nine years.  After that she began with the old DeKalb College, starting another career for twenty-four years that ended in 2004. She seemingly has always worked for the College with figures, in various capacities, in Student Accounts, Inventory, Budget and other positions.   Beth will leave the College by October 2004 with her “thirty years in.”  (It is hard to think of the lean, fit and tanned Beth, who has such a radiant and youthful smile, as a retiree and a grandmother, but she is.)


Beth has many memories of the College as a family but one of her favorites is the trying time when the institution was facing what any planner dreads, asbestos removal, which was needed at the old South Campus in Decatur in the early 1980s.  The campus was to be closed for extended work and Beth and her colleagues were to be “shipped out” to other locations.


Beth is the ultimate team player, but she and her friend Pam Baxley, who also worked in Student Accounts, had an improbably mischievous idea.  They had been serving as some of the few staff members while the South Campus was being shut down.  Finally, the time had come for the Student Accounts Office to close.  So Beth and Pam, wanting to make a statement, “borrowed” a skeleton from the Science Lab and took it out to the College sign on Panthersville Road.  Draping a bony arm on their shoulders, Beth and Pam, each on one side of the skeleton, posed for a photograph while holding a prominent sign that read:  “We don’t care if there is asbestos, we’re not leaving!”  Provost Dr. Fred Hill told the ladies he liked their spirit, but he knew they would understand, which of course they did.  And so the impromptu “skeleton crew” disbanded.


That hilarious photograph does not exist anymore, but it is the persistence of many memories that Beth has of the College as she prepares to leave us.  We will miss you Beth!