Cecilia Harbison, the wife of state Sen. Ed Harbison and former educator in the Muscogee County School District, died Wednesday after a six-year battle with cancer. She was 62.
“It just finally overcame her,” the District 15 senator said Thursday.
Cecilia died about 4 p.m. at The Medical Center in Columbus. Funeral arrangements are still pending with Charles E. Huff’s International Funeral Home in Columbus.
She was remembered as a passionate educator and counselor in the Muscogee County School System from 1979-1995.
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“She was just the finest kind of teacher and person,” said Gib Richardson, retired principal of Gentian Elementary where Cecilia taught fourth grade. “The parents would not hesitate about wanting their child in Mrs. Harbison’s classroom.”
Richardson said Cecilia had an enthusiasm for teaching and meeting the needs of students. “She just about always had a smile on her face,” Richardson said. “It was just a pleasure for me to go in and watch her teach, not trying to supervise. She didn’t need much supervision.”
The daughter of Jesse and Emma McIntyre, she was born Feb. 21, 1950, in Thomasville, Ga. She spent a short time there before her parents moved to Montgomery, Ala. Sen. Harbison was a family friend and the two started seeing each other after he joined the Marines and returned from Vietnam.
In 1976, she earned a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Columbus State University and later received a master’s degree in counseling from Troy University in Phenix City.
After 16 years as a teacher and counselor in Muscogee County School District, she worked for the Gwinnett County School System for six years.
During her career, she developed a Counseling Curriculum Module for the Georgia Department of Education, served as a textbook review team member for social studies, language, arts, science and math, co-developed and participated in a school district wide discipline policy and a series of other education programs.
Other than her husband, survivors include two children, a son, Edward, and daughter, Ladena, both of Columbus, and five grandchildren.