A native of West Covington and a twenty-year member of the United States Armed Forces. During the Second World War, Purvis enlisted (August 23, 1942) with the Navy. He served in the South Pacific aboard the USS Hornet. During the Korean War, he served aboard the USS MacMorris. Purvis received the Purple Heart three times and was awarded a Presidential Citation on two occasions.
While in the Navy, Purvis contracted an unknown disease. The illness forced him to retire from the armed forces in 1962. Much of his retirement, however, was spent in the veterans hospitals in Cincinnati and Washington D.C. Purvis died in the Washington D.C. Veterans Hospital in November 1965. Burial was at Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.
Harry Purvis was survived by his wife, Evelyn Boone Purvis. The couple were parents to five children: Harry Jr., Paulette, Charleen, Patricia, and Juanita.
News Enterprise, December 9, 1965, p. 1.