Ms. Dorothy Pruitt-Harris, who served the Greater Houston area as a realtor, entrepreneur and community activist, passed away on February 15, 2020 at 1:11 am, at the age of 84.
Dorothy was born in East Texas, in a town called Pickton, Texas, on July 20, 1935. After graduating high school, she matriculated to Houston in 1954, where she enrolled as a business student at Texas Southern University (TSU). Dorothy eventually left TSU and got married, to which she bore two children, Debra and Sandra Pete.
In 1965, Dorothy began a career at Mandrell Industrial Electrical Company, and after two years there, she left to go work at another electrical company. Dorothy was not satisfied with the status quo and entrepreneurship was in her blood. Her desire to pursue a better life led her to talk to the owner of Coleman’s Realty in Houston’s historic Third Ward. Mr. Coleman encouraged Dorothy to pursue her real estate license, which she did. At that time she decided to pursue her license, there were only four Black women in the field that were licensed real estate agents.
In 1962, Dorothy earned her real estate license under Meredith Realty. At the time, many people wondered why a young Black woman with two young children would quit a well-paying job to sell real estate. Dorothy was not swayed by the pessimism. Her passion to be successful kicked in and she never turned back from that moment on.
During her first month in real estate, Dorothy listed 17 properties in the South Park area, which was remarkable considering the majority of residents living in South Park during that time were White. She was the first Black woman to integrate the South Park area and she helped integrate various areas in Houston, where Blacks were initially not allowed. Dorothy eventually went to work for Coleman Realtors for a period of time, and then decided to own her own brokerage firm, so she went to obtain her own broker’s license and in February 1972, went into business for herself.
An interesting aspect of Dorothy’s life, came as the South Park area continued to grow with more Blacks moving to the area. She was one of the people, along with Ovide Ducantell, Bruce Jones and her husband, Samuel Harris Sr., to form the Black Heritage Society. She helped go door-to-door to spearhead a campaign and get enough signatures for a petition to have South Park Boulevard changed to Martin Luther King Boulevard. As part of the Black Heritage Society, she also helped form the Martin Luther King Jr. parade in downtown Houston. For the first four years of the annual MLK parade, Dr. King’s nephew, Derick King, frequently stayed at Dorothy’s home.
As a Black woman during the 1980’s, Dorothy bought, renovated and rented over 40 homes in the Greater Houston area, from Fifth Ward to South Park.
In addition to her real estate brokerage firm, Dorothy owned a Real Estate Training School; a construction company called JoBen Construction Company; a pest control company called Harris County Pest Control Company; pretreated the slab for Sam’s Club on Fannin Street and 610; was a Notary; made termite inspections for VA homes; and did so much more.
Dorothy Pruitt-Harris was a lifetime member of the Houston Black Real Estate Association, HAR, NAR, NBREA, Better Business Bureau and a full-fledged member of Lakewood Church.
Her husband, Samuel Harris, and daughter, Sandra Renee Pete, preceded her in death. She leaves to mourn her devoted daughter, Debra Barnes Davis (Jonathan); loving family and loyal friends.
She was laid to rest on February 28th at Houston Memorial Gardens, after a Celebration of Life Service that was held for her at Mabrie Memorial Mortuary.