Richard Gary Harrison was born to Gladys and Ralph Harrison on November 13, 1930 in Oklahoma, and grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas.
A lifelong lover of the air and sea, Gary was accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy in 1949, where he lettered in tennis and 150-pound football, sang in the choir and played in the Naval Academy Dance Band. Upon graduation he joined the U.S. Air Force and became a pilot.
In 1953, Gary was stationed in Tucson, Arizona, where he met Eleanor (Onnie) Cross, a senior who was studying acting at the University of Arizona. Gary drove 2.5 hours each day to take Eleanor out for coffee after rehearsals and performances. When asked why he went to so much trouble, he replied, “Because if I didn’t, someone else would!” They were married in March of 1954. Son Rick joined the family in September of 1955 and daughter Melanie in August of 1959 – Gary was present for both births.
After retiring from the military, Gary became involved with the fledgling computer industry, where he spent the rest of his career. After stints in Arizona, Hawaii, San Francisco and Seattle, the family came to Southern California and began attending Orange County Friends Meeting; Gary and Onnie became members in the 1974-75 membership year. The family was very active in the Meeting for many years, with Gary serving at various times on Ministry and Oversight, the Finance Committee, and the Fellowship Committee, and also as Recorder.
Although Gary called himself a conservative, he worked on Jimmy Carter’s re-election campaign, fought in the workplace for women’s continued acceptance into the business world, encouraged his daughter’s love of math and business, and was devoted to supporting Onnie’s pursuit of higher education – even her decision to spend a year of graduate field work in Nepal.
Gary was an excellent cook, who specialized in breakfast foods, bread, cookies and pastries. His life-long loves were steak, ice cream, tennis, airplanes (he built one in his garage!), his family, and especially, Onnie, his wife of 60 years.
Gary died on December 6, 2013. He is survived by his wife Eleanor, two children, Rick and Melanie, and their spouses, Terry and Dan, and 11 grandchildren – Rebecca, Joshua, Miriam, David, Jacob, Adolphus, Omaru, Nathan, Abigail, Tikvah, and Elisheva – and two great-grandchildren, Anatel and Verity. A memorial meeting was held July 26, 2014.