35-year-old mayor of small Ga. town who also taught elementary school dies of COVID-19

RICEBORO, Ga. — The 35-year-old mayor of Riceboro, Ga., who also worked as an elementary school teacher, has died of COVID-19.

Mayor Joseph Harris died on Sept. 21 after being hospitalized with the virus for a week.

Harris was elected Riceboro’s mayor in Nov. 2019 and became the youngest mayor to hold the office when he was sworn in in Jan. 2020.

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Riceboro is a town of about 800 people in coastal Georgia south of Savannah.


Harris was a native of Riceboro who got a job as the city’s grant administrator just after he graduated from Florida A&M University in 2009.

“He had a vision of making the city a place where people actually lived, worked and played,” Sabrina Newby, CEO of Coastal Georgia Minority Chamber, told WTOC.

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In addition to running his small town, Harris taught STEM lab at Lyman Hall Elementary School in Hinesville.

The city of Riceboro is working to determine how Harris will be replaced.