September 28, 1933 – October 5, 2020
Harold (Hal) Thomas Harrison was a familiar, friendly face to a generation of fledgling soccer stars through the 1970s-90s and the man who introduced the five-a-side format to children across the Comox Valley.
With his silver whistle and broad smile, he would spend most Saturdays introducing the game he loved to children who would later rise through the ranks of the Comox Valley Youth Soccer Association.
As a coach, referee, past-president and past-secretary for the association over many years, it wasn’t the most prestigious role he held during his time with the volunteer organization but the one he loved the most – and the one that ‘Mr. Harrison’ was most loved and remembered for.
After stepping away from five-a-side soccer, Hal soon found himself drawn back to sports, this time becoming a popular umpire (if there was ever such a thing) with the women’s fastball league in the Comox Valley.
He said he enjoyed the friendly banter of the women’s game over their male counterparts, while watching the calibre of play improve during the many years he was calling balls and strikes behind the plate.
Volunteering was a big part of Hal’s life, a sense of duty that also saw him become Akela for 2nd Courtenay Cub Scouts for a number of years in the 1970s and 80s. It allowed him to pass on the very life skills that he was introduced to as a young boy growing up in Esquimalt, Victoria, and attending the 1st Canadian Scouts Jamboree in Ottawa in 1949 as a King’s Scout.
Harold (Hal) Thomas Harrison sadly passed away on October 5, 2020 surrounded by his family at the Comox Valley Hospice after a long, courageous battle with acute myeloid leukemia.
Born on September 28, 1933, Hal was a son to parents Thomas and Pearl and brother to doting older sister Lillian. He was a premature baby but proved to be a fighter from his very first breath.
That would prove to be an asset throughout his life, especially when he was forced to leave school at just 12 years of age to provide for his mother and sister after the collapse of the family marriage.
Hal was a hard worker, defying his age with an entrepreneurial spirit which first emerged at the age of 10 when he would sell apples harvested from the family tree to passing soldiers stationed at the neighbouring Esquimalt barracks during the Second World War.
Hal took his responsibilities seriously and worked three jobs to help put food on the table, including paper routes, odd jobs and work at the dry cleaners across the street from his childhood home.
He would also ride his bicycle around Esquimalt collecting bottles for cash to generate more family income.
He would later trade those two wheels in for a motorcycle which enabled him to travel further and work more jobs as he grew into a young man who continued to put his family first with a trustworthy reputation – and a handsome leather jacket to match his looks.
Loyalty was important to Hal and he found that in abundance when he met the love of his life in former Catholic school girl Monica Catherine White. Seven years his junior, their courtship blossomed, and they were married on August 8, 1959.
With marriage came the job opportunity that Hal has been seeking and he joined B.C. Hydro for what would be a 35-year career which saw him first work in Jordan River before coming to the Comox Valley. A family soon followed with Catherine born in 1960, followed by Todd in 1961, Thomas in 1963 and Scott in 1964.
Living in Victoria, Hal decided to pursue a new opportunity in Courtenay at the John Hart power plant on the Puntledge River – a job he held until his retirement in 1993. The post also allowed him to reconnect with his father, who operated a shake and shingle mill in Merville, and form loving relationships with his younger brother and younger sisters he adored.
Courtenay also bought a new addition to the family as daughter Sandra (Sam) was born in 1969.
Hal continued to combine work and family life with his own interests, turning his hands to his large, bountiful garden when the Harrisons left the then-named Garden Park Apartments on Fitzgerald Avenue for their first home in the Meadowbrook subdivision late in the 1970s. Who knew one man could produce so many peas?
When their own children all began family lives of their own, Hal and Monica sold up and moved to Valley Vista Estates on Muir Road to settle into retirement life. But Hal was far from the retiring type and quickly returned to those entrepreneurial roots by mowing dozens of lawns for his Valley Vista neighbours while venturing into the woods to pick salal and chanterelle mushroom which he would sell for pocket money.
That pocket money funded his other passions, including bingo and golf, and paid for the scratch cards and lottery tickets that he was convinced would secure him the millions that he always said he would share with the people he loved the most in life.
Hal had a blessed life, enriched with family and friends, and took comfort in knowing that he would be reunited with his soulmate and only love Monica once again.
Hal was predeceased by his wife, Monica; sisters Lillian and Yvonne; mother Pearl; father Tom and step-mother Doris; and other loved family members.
He is survived by his eldest daughter Catherine (Eric); sons Todd (Colleen), Thomas (Shelley); Scott (Alison) youngest daughter Sandra (Michael); and daughter by heart, Andrea (Terry); grandchildren Janine (Will), Grant (Kerry), Keith (Courtney), Tyler (Jacqueline), Ryan, Amanda (Bill), Justin, Kaitlyn (Cole), Shawn, Aiden, McKenzie, Kellan, Andrew (Morgan), Mary-Katherine, Peter, Shaina (Tristan), Jakob, Markas; great-grandchildren Blake, Hollie-ann, Naythan, Alex, Michael, Savannah, Ben, Cooper, Emmett; Ava, Jake; brother Dan (Gail); sisters Janet, June (Garry); son-in-law Bill (Laurie); friends Ron & Lois Chamberlin, Jack Lafond, Joan Lavoie and a large extended family of in-laws, nieces and nephews.
Special thanks to Dr Gee, lab techs and medical daycare nurses at NI Hospital CV; nurses and care-workers from Community Health Services and from Comox Valley Hospice.
Family and friends will gather at a later date to celebrate his legacy.
Cards and flowers gratefully declined. The family would welcome donations in his name to the Comox Valley Hospice Society.
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