Reader Letter: Honoring a local friend
To the editor:
I'm not qualified to write an obituary for my family's long-time friend Patrick Harris, curator and guiding light of the Aurora Colony Historical Society, who passed away on the 18th, but a reminiscence is well within my grasp, so that is the best offering you'll get out of these words. We were not long-married when we came to the area to caretake the Newell House Museum at Champoeg, but soon became acquainted with Patrick and began a 33-year relationship with the cherubic bonehead in which a cross word was never uttered. It was all sharing a love of history of the region and laughter — lots of that when we were together — which was not often enough.We moved to Aurora and remained for 20 years, from just before our daughter was born until moving in 2007.
But he was there as a consultant and supporter of my wife's Pioneer School at Champoeg and we at ACHS, as members and actors in a many of their living history productions, perhaps the most notable of those being his ill-conceived idea of doing a Walking Tour of Aurora with actors at various stations interacting with guests and relating pieces of the history of the Colony.He chose to stage this in late January of 1992 (?), a season we thought a little flaky — and told him so, good-naturedly — but he was sure it was a great idea.As you might guess, it began to snow the evening before the performance; not a dusting but one which lingered. And the next morning he found himself with snow still drifting down and a 'disgruntled' actor picketing the Ox Barn with homemade signs that said "Harris Unfair to Actors" and "Harris: Not a Weather Prophet."
He laughed his fanny off, took pictures, and placed one of them above his desk at the museum...where it may still remain after nearly three decades. We conceived of several projects to promote the Society over the years, sadly none which came to fruition, but kept in contact less than we would have liked but enough to keep a fine friendship moving along to be renewed at a later time.That time came three weeks ago when we moved to Canby, one of its attractions being that we would — after this viral insanity ends — get to spend more time with him. We did not know of his passing until a few nights ago.But the day before we learned this I sent a jocular note to his desk to warn him we had returned...and feel certain he somehow made sure the bad news didn't get to us until the day after, so as to make me look like a dolt to anyone who reads it.And perhaps I am, but dearly miss our friend. He was a bright bulb in the string. May his ship sail free.
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