Aug. 13, 1911 — Sept. 19, 2012
A Memorial service will be conducted on Tuesday, Oct. 9 for Lawrence Denmark “ Lodi” Harrison of Patterson who died Sept. 19 at the age of 101, Lodi died peacefully at his home in Patterson surrounded by his loved ones. The son of British immigrants, he was born in New York City on August 13, 1911. As an infant, his parents moved the family to Fresno. He received academic honors in high school and at Fresno State College where he also excelled in athletics. He was captain of the Fresno State 1935 Far Western Conference championship basketball team. He earned his master’s degree in education from Stanford University and fulfilled the dreams of his parents by being the first member of his family to graduate from college.
After college he moved to Patterson where he took a position teaching and coaching at the high school. Loved and respected by his students and athletes, he maintained lifelong friendships with many of them and loved it when someone called him “Coach”. It was also while teaching in Patterson that he met Doris Roberts, an elementary school teacher who would become the love of his life. Their courtship was interrupted by the events of WWII when, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Lodi enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He served with the Eagle Squadron and was stationed in Debden, England as the base transitioned from British to American command. There he was assigned to army intelligence where he analyzed reconnaissance photos and briefed and debriefed pilots. In 1943 he was selected to attend officer candidate school and upon his return to the States he promptly married Doris.
After the war, he returned to Patterson where he briefly resumed teaching before taking a position as the manager of both the West Stanislaus Irrigation and Del Puerto Water Districts. Highly respected by all those with whom he worked, he was instrumental in the early development and success of irrigated agriculture on the west side of the valley and capably served and represented farm and water interests until his retirement in 1978. He was an active member of the community, serving as president of both the Patterson-Westley Chamber of Commerce and the Patterson Rotary Club. Perhaps most notably, together Lodi and Doris introduced the American Field Service international student exchange program to Stanislaus County.
Lodi and Doris were adventurous travelers, visiting the far corners of the earth, often flying stand-by and arriving at their destination without a single reservation. During his later years Lodi was a popular guest columnist for the Patterson Irrigator and a much loved local personality well known for walking his dog “DJ” around the town daily. A faithful Patterson High School sports booster, he was awarded and took full advantage of a Tiger Pride lifetime pass to all sporting events. He loved to be surrounded by his family and friends and to share good conversation, smiles and laughter over a glass of wine. Lodi’s extraordinary kindness, intelligence, and good-natured humor endeared him to all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 55 years, Doris Harrison; his parents Arthur Denmark and Caroline Williamson Harrison; his brothers Arthur James and Vernon, and his sister Caroline Mary. He is survived by his daughter Laurie and son-in-law Charles Dayton of Nevada City and their two children, Elizabeth (Steven Compton) and William; son Bill and partner Stephanie Garcia of Modesto; daughter Adele of Kennewick, Washington and her two children Caroline (Skyler Gardner) and Sam, and great-grandson Lewis Lawrence Gardner.
The family is extremely grateful to his three devoted caregivers: Gudrun Bieschke, Jeff Maltby and Julia Andersen, and to the many friends, neighbors and dog-walking acquaintances who made his final years so enjoyable. He provided solid comfort and support to his family. He lived an exemplary life, instilling the principles of honesty, fairness, respect, caring, responsibility, and strong family values in his succeeding generations. His generous and protective love will be greatly missed.
The Tuesday, Oct. 9 memorial service will be at 11 a.m. at Hillview Funeral Chapel, 450 W. Las Palmas Ave., in Patterson.
Instead of flowers, memorial contributions in Mr. Harrison’s name may be sent to a scholarship program for students at Patterson High School — P.R.I.D.E. (Patterson Recognizing Individuals Determined to Excel), P.O. Box 1543, Patterson, CA 95363.