Harry Harrison, 91, leaves community service legacy | January 1, 2014 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



News - January 1, 2014

Harry Harrison, 91, leaves community service legacy

by Sandy Brundage

Longtime local developer, political figure and community activist Harry Harrison died Dec. 22 at age 91.

Mr. Harrison was born in Puyallup, Washington, in 1922; his family later moved to California. He and wife Barbara, who died in 2007, met as neighbors in Redwood City and graduated together in 1941 from Sequoia High School, where they began dating. The couple married in 1946 and later moved to Menlo Park in 1978.

Mr. Harrison served on the Menlo Park Planning Commission from 1988 to 1996, and on the board of the West Bay Sanitary District for many years. As a commissioner he played a role in redesigning Fremont Park and Santa Cruz Avenue, narrowing the downtown strip from a four-lane road to a tree-lined, two-lane road with angled parking.

He also had an active career as a developer, building 42 houses in Ladera alone, as well as other homes in the community.

For years he was a fixture at Menlo Park council meetings, offering views on a wide variety of topics and in 1997, ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the dais.

An active volunteer, Mr. Harrison donated hours to Little House in Menlo Park, the Live Oaks Lions Club and the Menlo Park Historical Association. He spent many Sundays at the Menlo Park Farmers' Market, which supplies homeless organizations with food and raises funds for the Lions Club.

He won the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce Golden Acorn Award for individual achievement in community service in 1999.

He is survived by son Jim Harrison, and grandson Brock Harrison, both of Belmont. Another son, Kent, died at the age of 16.


Posted by Carol Harrison, a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm

It sounds like Menlo Park will miss my uncle as much as I will. Yes, he could be crusty and opinionated, but he was also a vibrant lover of life who was generous with his time, always had a story to share, and remained fully involved in his community throughout his life. He was a model for healthy aging in that he remained connected, optimistic and forward-looking even as the loss of friends and mobility mounted. My favorite childhood vacations involved Santa Cruz and Aptos, where he built many a place during his distinguished career and made them available to my family. I still remember the pride when he visited all his homes after the quake about 20 years back and announced them fit and unscathed. He is another of the World War II generation that believed hard work, independence and service to others were fundamental to living a good life. I will miss him, and I thank him for the example he set in terms of resilience and retiring from work, but not life.