In every challenge Captain Phil Harris faced in life, he was tough, determined and, some would say, stubborn. Staring down a monster wave, battling ice and wind or fighting for his business to stay afloat, he retained a steely resolve that got him through both the literal and figurative storms of his life. His two boys and deckhands, Josh and Jake, were his pride and joy. Peeling back the rough and tumble exteriors of Captain Phil, you found a man who cherished family and friends, who lived life large and full and who never forgot where he came from. That confidence was borne out of a life that had its share of bumps along the road. Last year at CatchCon, a "Deadliest Catch" fan festival in his hometown of Seattle, Captain Phil recalled the delicious revenge he enjoyed at achieving fame and fortune after teachers told him he would be nothing. He regaled the packed crowd with the story of how he noticed his old guidance counselor's house was for sale. He promptly drove over with a bag full of cash - enough to buy the house outright - knocked on the door, re-introduced himself to the stunned woman. Throwing down the bag on her kitchen table he shouted, "Remember how you said I would not amount to anything? Well, I'm a TV star now and I have enough here to buy your house!" Captain Phil died at age 53 on Tuesday, February 9, 2010, following a stroke suffered on Friday, January 29 while in port off loading in St. Paul, Alaska.
In Memory of Captain Phil Harris
As captain of the 128-foot-long, 298-ton Cornelia Marie, he was one of the fleet of crab-fishing boats that have plied the perilous waters off the Bering Sea for five seasons on the wildly popular and Emmy award-winning "Deadliest Catch," on Discovery Channel. Working 40 hours at a stretch and hauling in 800-pound pots in 30-foot waves against 60-knot winds, crab fishing is the ultimate tough guy job. Captain Phil fit the profile perfectly. Proud of his tattoos and happiest on dry land behind his many Harley Davidsons, Captain Phil formed a deep bond and connection with fans worldwide.
He was the everyman - working a job most everyone else could never imagine doing, but at the same time, being completely relatable and transparent.
Captain Phil Harris is survived by his father, Grant Harris, 76, of Lake Stevens, WA; children, Joshua Grant Harris, 26, of Monroe, WA, Jacob Charles Harris, 23, of Monroe, WA, and Andrea Renee Scarpa, 32, of Marysville, WA.
Captain Phil cared deeply about the brotherhood of the sea and in that spirit the Harris family asks that in lieu of flowers donations can be made to: The Seattle Fishermen's Memorial Fund c/o Phillip Harris PO Box 17356, Seattle, Washington 98127 (206)782-6577.
Published in The Herald (Everett) from February 19 to February 21, 2010