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Bill & Lucille Harris gain Hall of Fame nod

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POSTED May 4, 2013 1:10 a.m.



Bill and Lucille Harris - champions in the tort reform movement, astute business people, and supporters of education - are being inducted into the Manteca Hall of Fame.

Other members of the Class of 2013 are Jack Miller, athletics; Mike Henry, education; George Abdullah, Government; Greg Leland, education; Karl Konrad Wolf, health care; Randy Ernest Albertsen, athletics; and David Bricker, community service.

Bill (who has passed away) and Lucille Harris were nominated for induction in the fields of business, community service and at-large.

Together they founded, owned, and operated Tuff Boy Manufacturing and Tuff Boy Leasing for 58 years.

They have an extensive commitment to education programs in both Manteca and Ripon. They have been major sponsors of the Great Valley Writing Project for eight years as well as supporting Give Every Child a Chance, FFA chapters, 4-H clubs, school sports, Little League, and the Manteca Historical Society.

Lucille, a Manteca native, is the daughter of John and Mary Mendosa who owned Mendosa’s menswear shop on Yosemite Avenue.

Lucille is a 1950 Manteca High graduate and attended Humphrey’s Business College. Besides founding the Tuff Boy business with her husband she also worked with him to establish Harris Ranches devoted to almond growing. She is still an active manager in the companies that employ more than 60 people.

Lucille has always placed a high emphasis on writing whether it is in business communication, political advocacy or encouraging children to write.

Her political advocacy started in the 1960s when pilot training programs at Stockton Airport meant big jumbo jets were circling over Manteca every 20 minutes to routinely interrupting classroom instruction. She contacted airport officials and worked with the community to change the flight patterns.

In 1988 when business liability premiums skyrocketed by as much as 3,000% she joined a grassroots movement for tort reform that demanded investigation of antitrust violations. Lucille served on a legislative committee for tort reform and was asked by 60 Minutes to share her story. She declined and instead recommended a Northern California manufacturer whose story better served the cause.

In 1980 Lucille and her husband along with their companies were the targets of wrongful and malicious lawsuits drawing them into a complex legal battle. The couple uncovered evidence of fraud and judicial misconduct among certain court officials and some of their own attorneys. Lucille again resorted to writing to compose her own legal pleadings, as well as serving as her own attorney during a civil trial that; lasted five months. She wrote hundreds of letters to public agencies and secured critical support from the IRS. The couple prevailed.

She has been involved with Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) in recent years.

Bill is a native of Modesto who attended Ceres Grammar School before moving to Manteca and graduating in 1950 from Manteca High. He attended the Schneider Institute in Stockton where he studied mechanical layout and industrial design.  In 1955 Bill and his wife bought Smith Welding in the Nile Garden area. In 1960, the business evolved into the Tuff Boy companies specializing in the manufacture and leasing of highway trailers.

The couple has three children: son Marty and daughters Marsha Perkins and Melissa King.



To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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