Richard Lee Harris, age 83, of Austin, Texas, passed away on 26 October 2012. Richard, known as Dick to many, and as Buck or Bucky to most Army friends, was born in Pittsburgh, PA on December 26, 1928 to E. Lee and Marjorie A. Harris and was raised and attended public schools in the Avonworth Union School District nearby, graduating in 1947 first in his high school class and the Class President. Substantially involved in sports, he lettered in football, basketball and baseball, winning many conference and county honors as well as scholarship opportunities. Scant as spare time may have been, Dick always seemed to have a job, working for...
Richard Lee Harris, age 83, of Austin, Texas, passed away on 26 October 2012.
Richard, known as Dick to many, and as Buck or Bucky to most Army friends, was born in Pittsburgh, PA on December 26, 1928 to E. Lee and Marjorie A. Harris and was raised and attended public schools in the Avonworth Union School District nearby, graduating in 1947 first in his high school class and the Class President. Substantially involved in sports, he lettered in football, basketball and baseball, winning many conference and county honors as well as scholarship opportunities. Scant as spare time may have been, Dick always seemed to have a job, working for the YMCA, shoveling coal or snow or driving a grocery truck.
He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, while there, playing varsity intercollegiate baseball and hockey. Dick, a cadet captain and company commander, graduated in 1951 fourth in his class, receiving the first (General of the Army Dwight D.) Eisenhower Award for Military Leadership, and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He cherished his undergraduate years at West Point for the lifelong friendships developed among classmates and many, many others there with whom he shared the life of service years later.
For the next thirty years, Dick served the nation he so dearly loved in the Army he loved, rising through the grades to Major General. He served as a platoon leader, company commander, and S-3 during the Korean War with the 13th Engineer Combat Battalion of the 7th Infantry Division where he was wounded. Dick served twice in Vietnam during the war, first as Battalion Commander, 20th Engineer Combat Battalion, which he deployed from Fort Devens during the build-up, later as Support Command Commander of the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) and finally as Deputy Commander of the Separate Garry Owens Brigade. During his Army years, among many assignments, he was an assistant resident engineer during the construction of the then new McGuire AFB, NJ; a resident engineer at Valley Forge Army Hospital, PA; a project engineer in New York on a joint agency assignment with the Atomic Energy Commission; commander for the performance tests and first operation of a nuclear power plant in Alaska; a J3 operations officer for quick reaction joint exercises with the new U.S. STRIKE Command at MacDill AFB, FL; Assistant Commandant of the Army's Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, VA; Director of Management Information Systems for the Department of the Army; Commander of the US Army Training Center (Engineer) and Fort Leonard Wood, MO; and as Division Engineer, North Central Division Army Corps of Engineers in Chicago, where he retired from the service. He received a Master's degree in civil engineering from MIT, and graduated from the Oak Ridge School of Reactor Technology (then the sole-source contract operation for nuclear engineering), the Army Engineer School, the Army's Command and General Staff College and from the National War College. During his final assignment, Dick also served as a President-appointed member of the Mississippi River Commission, as a Commissioner on two other water basin commissions and, ex-officio, as the U.S. Co-Chairman of five International Joint Commission boards (with Canada). Among his service awards were the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with 4 oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star with 2 oak leaf clusters, the Air Medal with 4 numerals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Purple Heart. He was a Senior Parachutist.
After his Korean service, Dick married his true love, the beautiful Pat Walton, a real "girl-next-door", whose strength, patience, good cheer and lasting love carried the day through the good times and bad. Daughter Sandy was born under a rainbow in Columbus, OH; Jill in a snowstorm at Mitchel Field, NY; the twin boys, Bill and Bob, in Natick, MA, with Dick receiving the news by wire in Vietnam.
A registered Professional Engineer in Texas (and Pennsylvania and Florida), he came to work for Radian Corporation in Austin, Texas following his service retirement, not coincidentally selecting a home "on a golf course". While at Radian, Dick was responsible for corporate business development planning and program management. He was actively engaged in directing and implementing the company's research and development, licensing, acquisition and venture strategies. A Vice President, he retired from Radian on December 31, 1993. During his years of military and commercial service, he was actively affiliated with a number of military and civilian professional associations.
Throughout most of his life, Dick was fascinated by the people and events, that were the history of the century, in which he lived the majority of his life. This preoccupation with the 20th century provided the basis for a number of avocational pursuits, which engaged much of his time and creativity, particularly during retirement – completing collections, and their organization, of movie classics and popular music and books produced in and about the century. Creatively, he enjoyed doing caricatures and portraitures of the people who made the news and headlines of the period, as well as family members, and ultimately producing a book: "A 20th Century Chronicle in Caricature". Beyond his love of country, the central most important part of Dick's life was his family, perhaps more so than many because he was an only child. He would exult in their successes and suffer with them in their difficulties, ever and always available to support them as he could. Survivors include his loving wife of 58 years, Patricia Ann (Walton) Harris; his two daughters, Sandra Jo Egdorf and Carole Jill St. George; his twin sons William Walton and Robert Lee Harris; 13 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.
A private family service is planned. In lieu of flowers, any remembrances may be sent to Army Emergency Relief, 200 Stovall Street, Alexandria, VA 22332-0600, or to the West Point Fund, West Point, NY 10996-9910.
To share memories of Richard Lee Harris, please visit www.cookwaldenchapelofthehills.com.