On Friday, Erik Harris and his fiancŽe, Toni Holder, moved into a house they had just built. Over Labor Day weekend, his whole family was coming down from northern Ohio to visit.
“He said he bought a new barbecue grill and we were going to cook out,” said his grandmother Netta Common, reached by phone in Alliance, Ohio.
Harris, 28, a sales team leader for Galls Inc., was aboard Comair Flight 5191, taking uniforms to the New Orleans Police Department with two co-workers when the plane crashed on Sunday.
Harris and his siblings -- Annette Smith, 26; Emilee Harris, 22 and Adam Harris, 20 -- grew up with their parents, Richard and Karen Harris, next door to maternal grandparents Netta and Frank Common.
“He was a sweetheart,” Netta Common said. “He called home every day.”
Erik Harris was born Sept. 15, the birthday of Frank Common, who died of cancer last September.
“He was in our lives every day,” Common said. “We played with him. We read with him. Today my heart is broken.”
Common planned to take her grandson shopping for a birthday present while she was in Lexington.
Harris graduated from West Branch High School in Beloit, Ohio, where he played varsity football and baseball. “He was very intelligent and a very good student,” Common said. He graduated in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in criminology at Morehead State University, according to university records.
Harris was president of Sigma Pi fraternity and negotiated construction of a new fraternity house, said Capp Yes, associate professor of physics and Sigma Pi adviser.
“He was able to pull together a lot of factions -- fraternity members, alumni, the national organization, the developer -- who were leery about the idea,” Yes said. “He worked very, very hard and Sigma Pi has a new fraternity house, thanks to him.”
Of her brother, Annette Smith said, “We would fight like brothers and sisters. Love like brothers and sisters.” Harris was a big cut-up, she said, adding with a little chuckle, “At the end of the day, what I will miss the most is not him coming home and saying he loves me, but coming home and putting my head in the toilet.”
She paused. “He was a good brother.”