Edward H. Harris Jr. Was Distinguished Psychiatrist

Edward Harris died last month at his home in Auburn, Calif., at the age of 73. During his lifetime he persevered over great odds to become a highly respected psychiatrist. He was born in Canton, Miss., at the start of the Great Depression on July 12, 1929. His father, Edward H. Harris Sr., died when he was six years old. His mother, Ethel Harris Burrage, a pre-school and kindergarten teacher, always stressed the importance of education to him, a lesson he remembered for a lifetime.

After graduating from high school in Canton in 1947, he earned a bachelor of science degree with highest distinction in biology from Tennessee State University in 1951. He then matriculated to Harvard University, where he was graduated from medical school in 1956. While he was in medical school, he met and married Susan Celeste Frye in July 1954. Susan predeceased him in April 1975.

Edward completed his medical internship at King's County Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the summer of 1957, then enlisted and served as a captain in the United States Army at Fort Riley, Kans. While in the service, he fathered two sons, David Jeffrey Harris in 1957 and Edward Henry Harris 3rd in 1959.

Dr. Harris had a distinguished career in public health and mental health. He established a private practice in Columbus, Miss., and maintained it until 1963 when he moved to Boston to become trained in psychiatric care. He was first a fellow, then a resident psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1963 to 1968. In June 1968 he moved to Auburn, Calif., and was a staff psychiatrist at Dewitt Hospital in Auburn until 1971. In 1971 he became medical director at the Charles Drew Medical Center in East Palo Alto, and also served as an assistant professor at Stanford University Medical School from 1971 to 1973. From 1974 until his retirement he worked at Folsom Prison, initially as chief psychiatrist, and toward the end of his career, chief medical officer. In 1978 he took a three-year leave from Folsom Prison to serve as director of flight medicine for NASA, where he performed psychological profiles on potential astronauts.

A lifetime learner with a passion for life, Dr. Harris loved to travel, especially to Europe and the Canadian Rockies. Some of his other hobbies included flying (he once flew solo across the United States). He ran in several marathons, including the Boston Marathon, and was an avid sailor.

Dr. Harris is survived by his two sons, David and Edward, and one granddaughter Chelsea. He is also survived by his sister in law, Grace (Frye) Reeves, and her husband, Barry Reeves, of Aquinnah, his brother in law, Vincent Frye of Oak Bluffs, and his mother in law, Grace Frye of Oak Bluffs. He will be sorely missed.

A memorial service in his honor was held at the First Congregational Church in Auburn on June 28.