George R. Garris, retired refuge manager with the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, died Thursday. He was 80.
Garris was born April 19, 1932, and grew up in Walterboro. He attended the University of Georgia, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in forestry and wildlife management in 1959. He also served four years in the Air Force.
Garris became refuge manager of the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge in 1974 after serving several other refuges in the region, including St. Marks Wildlife Refuge in Florida and Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in Round Oak, Ga.
At Cape Romain, Garris spearheaded several projects, such as the sea turtle nesting program and the construction of the SEWEE Visitor and Environmental Education Center.
Garris retired from Cape Romain in 2003, and moved to Westfield, N.C., where he lived for the remainder of his life.
To honor his work with Cape Romain, S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford declared Sept. 13, 2003, as “George R. Garris Day,” and the refuge dock at Cape Romain was renamed “Garris Landing.”
Garris is survived by his wife, Mary Lou Garris; children, Georgia, Jean, Steve, Wayne and Clark; and six grandchildren.
The memorial service is planned for today at 2 p.m. in Pilot Mountain, N.C. Cox-Needham Funeral Home is handling the arrangements. Donations may be made to the SEWEE Visitor and Environment Education Center.