Harrison Deal, 20, had a passion for Georgia politics

UGA student Harrison Deal (left) with his father Curt Deal, a Statesboro funeral director and Bulloch County commissioner. (Facebook)

UGA student Harrison Deal (left) with his father Curt Deal, a Statesboro funeral director and Bulloch County commissioner. (Facebook)

Harrison Deal didn’t stand out just because of his lanky 6-foot-4 frame and passion for Georgia politics. His contagious smile, easy laugh and humble nature made him many fast friends and admirers.

“It’s something to look back and see the impact he had,” said Lucy Kemp, the 19-year-old daughter of Gov. Brian Kemp, who dated Deal for two years. “He never thought of himself as the most important person in the room. He didn’t know he had affected so many people’s lives.”

Harrison Deal, 20, died Friday in an auto accident on I-16 in Chatham County. A campaign aide for Sen. Kelly Loeffler, he was traveling to advance an event with Vice President Mike Pence at the Savannah airport.

“Harrison was a beloved member of our campaign team,” Loeffler said. “More importantly, Harrison was a smart, bright, loving, loyal and outstanding young man.”

Both Loeffler and Gov. Kemp canceled their appearances with the vice president after hearing of Deal’s death.

“Words cannot express how much Harrison Deal’s life, love and support meant to us,” said Kemp, who has three daughters. “Harrison was the Kemp son and brother we never had.”

UGA student Harrison Deal (left) with Gov. Brian Kemp. (Facebook)

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Deal got his love for politics from his father, Curt Deal, director of the Statesboro funeral home that is handling his son’s services. He won election as a Bulloch County commissioner four years ago and again this year, with enthusiastic help from his son.

“That somehow planted a seed in him,” said Deal. “He admired what I did but he became more of an admiration to me. He had faith in God and trusted in him. He lived life to the fullest as best you can.”

Deal’s voice broke several times when he recalled his son’s involvement in the church, coaching some of his sports teams and Harrison’s relationship with the governor’s daughter.

“We hurt for ourselves and we also hurt for Lucy,” he said.

Harrison Deal was a 2018 graduate of Bulloch Academy and a member of the National Honor Society. He was also active in his church’s student ministry.

Deal attended Georgia Southern University his freshman year before transferring to the University of Georgia. A sophomore, he majored in finance and political science. And he was living his dream as a political junkie working as a field representative for the Loeffler campaign.

On Facebook, both Deal and Lucy Kemp posted photos of themselves with Loeffler signs, socializing at campaign events and attending UGA football games. Deal posted photos of himself with the governor, fellow campaign workers and his family.

“Happy Birthday to the best dad ever!” he posted last month with a photo of himself and Curt Deal. Another post urged voters to support his father’s commission reelection bid.

Even at an early age, Harrison Deal dabbled in the stock market, using apps on his cellphone to make investments and project future earnings. He once talked about becoming a financial advisor but more recently was thinking about political consulting.

“I don’t think he was someone who’d run for office,” Lucy Kemp said. “He liked being behind the scenes.”

At UGA, he joined Sigma Phi Epsilon and made close friends.

“He was one of those guys that everyone told you that you had to meet,” fraternity brother Jack Miller said. “He loved everyone he ever met and everyone loved him right back.”

Deal was a someone “you never saw upset,” said Jacob Cone, another fraternity brother who shared a love of politics. “Nothing ever really rattled him. It was good to have been in the same political foxholes with him.”

This year, Deal’s Christian faith had grown even stronger, Lucy Kemp said.

“He was so on fire about it,” she said. “His being taken from us so soon is not what we wanted. But he accomplished what was meant for him in this life by bringing others to the cross and by glorifying the Lord.”

UGA student Harrison Deal (left) with his close friend Lucy Kemp, the daughter of Gov. Brian Kemp. (Facebook)

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Just days before his death, Deal wrote a reflection for his fraternity about his growth over the past semester. He said putting his life into God’s hands was the best thing he’d ever done.

“I can’t wait to see what he has for me in the future,” Deal wrote. “Becoming more patient has made me realize that no matter what I want my life, I am not the one in control. God’s plan for me has already been established, and I must trust and be patient that he will always provide for me.”

Harrison Thomas Deal is survived by his parents Curt and Jenni Groover Deal and sisters Hannah and Halli. Services will be Thursday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Statesboro. Burial will follow at Bulloch Memorial Gardens.