Team in Transit

From truck stops to tailgates   //   the story behind moving an SEC football team

A Gameday in the Life of Stumpy Harris

  • November 4, 2011

    November 4, 2011

    Follow Gordon \"Stumpy\" Harris, one of the biggest donors and University of Florida Football supporters at the 2011 homecoming festivities. The day begins at his Gainesville condominium and ends in his suite at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

  • 8:20 a.m.

    8:20 a.m.

    Harris fires up his 1932 Ford, one of the many vehicles of his "Gator Fleet." The annual University of Florida Homecoming Parade has featured Harris for more than 20 years.

  • Legacy Director

    Legacy Director

    Harris’ contribution of more than $3 million to UF has earned him the distinction of Legacy Director of Gator Boosters. Only six Legacy Directors exist in the history of UF, according to Harris.

  • Stumpy\'s Gator Fleet

    Stumpy\'s Gator Fleet

    A portrait of Harris’ spirited Gator vehicle collection hangs in his condo.

  • 8:45 a.m.

    8:45 a.m.

    Before his friends arrive, Harris waits outside the \"Gator Den.\" He decorated his newly purchased Gainesville condominium entirely with orange and blue and Gators football memorabilia.

  • 9:20 a.m.

    9:20 a.m.

    Harris prepares to head to the President\'s Brunch, a UF Homecoming tradition. Notable alumni, faculty and students attended the brunch at President Bernie Machen\'s house before the start of the Homecoming Parade.

  • 9:50 a.m.

    9:50 a.m.

    Inside the President\'s House, Harris greets Dean Robert Jerry of the UF Levin College of Law. After earning his undergraduate degree in 1961, Harris returned to UF to attend law school. He graduated with his law degree in 1965.

  • 10:15 a.m.

    10:15 a.m.

    Harris attends the brunch with Rutledge Harris, his youngest son. Like his two other children, Rutledge has grown up cheering for the Gators, Harris said.

  • 10:30 a.m.

    10:30 a.m.

    Harris and his son eat brunch together.

  • Stumpy\'s Gator Gear

    Stumpy\'s Gator Gear

    As one of the most significant Florida fans, Harris is well-known for his clothing, which is emblazoned with Gator logos. His typical game day attire included embroidered pants, shoes, alligator glasses and Gator shirts.

  • 11:10 a.m.

    11:10 a.m.

    After saying his goodbyes at the President\'s Brunch, Harris heads to the parking lot of Pressly Stadium to prepare for the parade. Two of Harris\' cars were featured in the parade. Harris drove his truck while his friend drove the 1932 Ford.

  • 11:25 a.m.

    11:25 a.m.

    Harris\' 7-year-old son waits in the 1932 Ford for the parade to begin. Harris said his son was excited to have the opportunity to ride in the truck during the parade.

  • 11:30 a.m.

    11:30 a.m.

    Harris waits for directions from the parade\'s director and staff. While he enjoys watching parades, Harris said it is much more his style to star in the procession.

  • 11:35 a.m.

    11:35 a.m.

    Harris cruises in his truck at the start of the parade.

  • 12:05 p.m.

    12:05 p.m.

    A crowd lines the sidewalk to watch the parade. People of all ages came out to see the cars and floats as they drove down University Avenue.

  • 12:20 p.m.

    12:20 p.m.

    A young boy does the Gator chomp as Harris\' vehicle passes in the parade, playing the Gator Fight Song through the custom-made horn.

  • Stumpy\'s Spirit

    Stumpy\'s Spirit

    Harris sports his sunglasses with an alligator design as he drives in the parade. His love for the team began in 1952, at the Florida-Georgia game.

  • Stumpy\'s Skybox

    Stumpy\'s Skybox

    Harris arrives at his 30-person stadium suite before Gator Growl, the UF student-run pep rally. He was a key member of the Ben Hill Griffin Skybox Expansion Project.

  • 6:25 p.m.

    6:25 p.m.

    The inside of Harris\' skybox contains gator heads, framed newspaper articles of significant moments in Gators football history and autographed memorabilia. The atmosphere of the skybox is always festive, with lots of banter and celebration, Harris said.

  • 7 p.m.

    7 p.m.

    As Gator Growl kicks off, Harris\' friends and family join him in the skybox. Harris said he can remember attending Gator Growl back when it was free of charge to students. The event is one of the UF Homecoming traditions he enjoys the most.

  • 7:30 p.m.

    7:30 p.m.

    Each year, Harris and a group of UF donors known as the \"Tailgators\" take a trip to an away football game. Harris also has the opportunity to fly to an away game with members of the football team once each season.

  • 7:50 p.m.

    7:50 p.m.

    At five feet, three and a half inches, Harris says his nickname suits him well. People often tell him they have trouble referring to him as \"Stumpy,\" but he considers it a term of endearment, he said.

  • 9 p.m.

    9 p.m.

    Harris watches the conclusion of Gator Growl from his skybox. For Harris, the donor process has been evolutionary. First, he gave time, and then he gave money. \"I continue to receive and continue to give. It\'s a fair relationship, not one-sided,\" Harris said.

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