William Harris

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  • "Bill was the most beautiful person I have ever known. I..."
    - Winona Richardson
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    - PJ Muniz
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EYDEN – William Scott Harris passed away at home May 15, 2018.

He was born in Springfield  on Oct. 8, 1947, at Wesson Memorial Hospital. He was the only child of William Morton Harris, who died July 4, 1947 and Marcia Scott (Harris) Harris. He resided for the first year of life with his mother at the home of his paternal grandparents, Morton Earl Harris and Bessie (Guinan) Harris in Longmeadow, then moving to Greenfield, with his mother to the home of his maternal grandmother, Ethel Mary (Howes) Harris.

He is survived by three stepbrothers and one stepsister, 11 first cousins and his longtime partner, Keng Siong Sim of Richmond, Virgina.

He was educated at Greenfield Public Schools and spent four years as a boarding student at Suffield Academy, Suffield, Connecticut, graduating in 1966. He attended Boston University, serving as Class President at the Division of General Education. He wrote poetry for the literary magazines at both schools as well as for an alternative newspaper, Le Chronic, in Boston. In 1968, he joined Time, Inc. in New York City, becoming a photo cataloger and supervisor in the Picture Collection. He also served as shop steward for the Newspaper Guild of New York and a member of it's contract negotiating committee for the union's contract with the company.

He was active in the Anti-Vietnam War movement in New York, and participated in the Gay Rights Stonewall Insurrection in June, 1969 in Greenwich Village. Bill worked in the Democratic Presidential Campaign of Sen. George McGovern in 1972 in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan, and California as a community organizer.

In Dec., 1972, he moved to Honolulu, Hawaii where he lived for 18 years, working as a florist, construction worker, fine art salesman, and snorkeling tour guide. He immersed himself in the Native Hawaiian culture and produced luaus with Native Hawaiian food, hula and music at the Arica House, a meditation center in Manoa Valley.

In, 1990 he returned to build a Japanese-style home in Leyden, and from 1991 to 2011 was employed by Silverscape Designs, Inc. in Northampton, serving as manager of its Amherst Fine Jewelry and Gems Gallery for 12 years.

He was also a member of the Amherst Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Kendrick Park Committee, Leyden Planning Board, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Sierra Club, and Human Rights Campaign.

In 2013, he protected 60 acres of his forest land in perpetuity with a conservation restriction through the Franklin Land Trust. He enjoyed long distance swimming and running, completing three full marathons and numerous 10ks, half marathons, and other races, and was an avid gardener and music lover.

The funeral will be held at Ahern Funeral Home, 783 Bridge Road, in Northampton on Saturday, May 19, at 10 a.m. Guests are welcome to dress in Hawaiian-themed costumes.

Burial will follow in Bridge Street Cemetery.

Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to the American Civil Liberties Union or Franklin Land Trust.

To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories and read other obituaries, go to legacy.com/obituaries/gazettenet.
Funeral Home
Ahearn Funeral Home
783 Bridge Road
Northampton, MA 01060
(413) 587-0044
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Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on May 17, 2018