Harry and Barbara Sue Purple were married in 1952. After service in the Army Signal Corps, he and Sue moved back to Paintsville, where Harry began work with the South-East Coal Co., his family business. Over the years Harry built several new mines in Letcher County and the central coal-preparation plant for South-East in Irvine, Ky. Upon the death of his father, he became president of South-East in 1978. He retired in 1994.
Harry served on the governing boards of Morehead State University, Berea College, Centre College, and Culver Military Academy and established a scholarship program for South-East employee children. Eventually more than 180 students graduated from college under the program.
Harry died June 23, 2016, after a 12-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He is survived by his wife, Sue; their children Elizabeth (Beth) Owen, Henry, Donald, and Stephen; six grandchildren including Joe Owen ’04 and Amy Minnick ’09; and five great-grandchildren.