Davis--Joseph Harrison, MD, 88, retired chief medical examiner for Miami Dade County, Florida, died peacefully in his sleep on March 19, 2013. Born April 16, 1924 to Samuel and Adah Davis, he grew up in Scarsdale NY and attended Lehigh University until he enlisted in the US Army during WWII. The Army sent him to Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Princeton University and the Long Island College of Medicine where he received his MD. He served in the Public Health Service which deployed him to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where he met his wife, RoseMarie Lorentzen, a nurse at the Tacoma Indian Hospital. Their growing family moved to New Orleans where he studied pathology at LSU before moving to Miami in 1956 to open the first Medical Examiner office with his mentor, Dr. Stanley H. Durlacher. After the sudden death of Dr. Durlacher he became the Chief Medical Examiner of Miami Dade County, the position he held for 40 years. During this time he pioneered advances in forensic medicine and public safety legislation. He trained many in the field of forensics and worked tirelessly and closely with detectives, doctors, nurses, lawyers, judges, engineers, legislators and the families of the bereaved.
He was a professor of Pathology, University of Miami, served as Chairman of the Medical Examiners Commission, State of Florida, President of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, President of the National Association of Medical Examiners, Commissioner on the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence and the National Medicolegal Review Panel. He was a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, Long Island College of Medicine, Iron Arrow Society and Omicron Delta Kappa, University of Miami, and Phi Beta Delta, American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He was a lifelong member of the NRA and the NMLRA.
He received numerous awards and honors for his service including the Milton Helpburn Laureate from the National Academy of Medical Examiners, The Gerber-Busbee Award from the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners, the William R. Maples Award for Lifetime Contributions in Forensic Medicine, University of Florida, The Distinguished Rotarian Award from the Rotary Club of Miami, and received the Gradwohl Laureate, the highest honor in forensic science, from the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
He was preceded in death by his sister Aldean Walner, brother, Robert Davis and his dear granddaughter Janet Cotee and beloved wife, RoseMarie. He is survived by children Cathy Eby, Frankie Ferguson, Susan Towson, Margene Kuersteiner, Bobbi (Budgie) Malinski, Barbara Davis, and son, Joseph Davis Jr. He is also survived by 37 grandchildren & great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Parkinson's research, Cystic Fibrosis research, or the Rotary Club of Miami. A celebration of life will be held in Monticello, Florida on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm at Christ Episcopal Church - Address: 425 N Cherry St, Monticello, FL 32344 . In Miami, a memorial service will be held on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 10:00 am at the Miami Dade County Auditorium – Address: 2901 W Flagler Street, Miami, FL.