J. Michael Harrison Sunday, December 24, 1944 - Saturday, May 20, 2017


J. Michael Harrison passed away at home on May 20, 2017.  He was born in Nebraska and grew up in South Dakota.  He graduated from Oberlin College in 1966 and the University of Michigan Law School in 1970.  He served as an administrative Law Judge for New York State for the majority of his career and retired in December, 2005.  His empathy, humor and generositiy made a lasting impression in many lives.  He was a talented musician, lover of arts, and a passionate advocate for environmental, socio-economic and animal rights and preservation.  He also loved spending time with his adoring family.

J. Michael lives through his wife, Betty Harrison; his son, J. Ryan Harrison; his daughter, Xoxenia Harris; his sister, Judith Harrison; his stepdaughter, Sharon Christenson; and his grandchildren, Detrevien, Robert, Sean and Leah.  He was predeceased by his brother, David Harrison and stepson, Richard Harrison. 

Calling from 5-7 pm on Thursday at the funeral home.  Services will be held at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Delmar on Friday at 11 am.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation be considered to either Defenders of Wildlife, Earth Justice, or the American Heart Association.

Join us on Monday, May 22, 2017 - 4:30pm

Like Skip, I just learned of Mike's death via the internet. I knew Mike as my older and only brother's best friend, and as an older boy who did not torment me, a younger boy. Mike graduated from Oberlin College the Spring before I enrolled there. He drove me back to Oberlin my freshman year (after some holiday break) as he was heading on to the U of Michigan. Mike was driving his swimming pool-green 1959(?) Chevrolet sedan and, as we crested a low hill on the 2 lane state highway, an oncoming vehicle was in our lane, bound for a head-on collision. Mike braked, slid that Chevy to the left, then cranked the wheel to the right, causing the car to slide sideways back into our lane and thus avoid a second oncoming car which was properly in its lane. This is one of a handful of car control maneuvers I've personally experienced which I will always remember.

Much more recently, I had hoped to see Mike at his 50th Oberlin reunion in May, 2016. Unfortunately, Mike was ill and unable to make the trip. However, I spoke with a number of his classmates who remembered him as a smart, witty, quiet young man who displayed a dogged determination on the tennis court.

Rest in peace, Mike. I will always remember you.

Mark Christensen


Mike, or "Miguel" as I called him (It's a long story.), was my oldest and dearest friend.  We first met c. 65 years ago in Brookings, SD.  Our relationship was on and off for a few years -- on for awhile, then off at the beginning of those difficult teen years (He was more mature; I was a bad boy, into various law-breaking activities.), on through high school and college years, off for a few years when I got drafted and during our late-20s and early-30s as our jobs consumed us a bit, then on for pretty much the past 4-ish decades, on opposite sides of the country but meeting when and where we could, Tucson, Albany, Moab and environs, Brookings for high school reunions, and other places.

I've been out of the country for the past couple of months and just learned of his death.  Miguel and I video-chatted every two weeks or so for the past few years, chats averaging 2+ hours, so I saw him regularly, the last time on April 25, just before I left for Europe.  My calendar shows that we were scheduled for our next vid chat on June 27, just after I return to Tucson.  I knew about his health issues in great detail, but his death still comes as a great shock.

We were each other's link to immortal youth.  I can truly empathize with his family's grief.

Ryan, Sharon and Family,

I am sorry for the lost of your Dad. Your Dad was proud of all of you and spoke highly of you all. I know no words can heal your broken hearts but let the great memories start to mend them. Just know he will always be by your side still.