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J. Rufford Harrison


1930 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
J. Rufford Harrison Obituary
J. Rufford Harrison

AGE: 86 •

J. Rufford Harrison, PhD, 86, died at Havenwood Heritage Heights Retirement Community in Concord, NH on January 28, 2017 after a stoic battle with Parkinson's Disease. He was born on May 5, 1930 in Beeston, Nottinghamshire, England, the only child of John Leslie and Winifred May Harrison. He received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from King's College, part of the University of London in April 1953, after which he accepted employment with the Du Point Company, first in Niagara Falls, NY before being transferred to Wilmington, DE. He retired from Du Pont as a product manager in the paper industry in 1990.

Harrison married Elizabeth Armstrong of Great Neck, NY in 1954. The couple had two children, Elizabeth McCrae Harrison (Michael Ritchie) of Wilmington, DE, and John Bryce Harrison (Pisita) of Spokane, WA, before divorcing in 1968. Harrison remarried, to Martha Nothaft, nee Nake, of Wilmington in 1978. When he retired, the couple moved to Washington, NH, were they lived for 15 years until moving to Havenwood Heritage Heights Continuing Care Retirement Community in Concord, NH. In Washington, Harrison was a Selectman for ten years.

Harrison's first life-long avocation was choral singing, beginning with a church choir at the age of 8, and progressing through a variety of groups including the Niagara Frontier Male Chorus, the Interpreters (a seven-part group in Wilmington), the Delaware Saengerbund for which he qualified by dint of Martha's Germanic background, and the Monadnock Chorus Chamber Singers. In college, he was introduced to table tennis, in which sport he progressed through a variety of official positions including president of the United States Table Tennis Association and vice-president of the International Table Tennis Federation. It was this action that produced his claim to fame when, in 1971 in Nagoya, Japan, he received the invitation for his team to visit China on a tour that became know throughout the world as Ping Pong Diplomacy.

Harrison was also an avid sailor, largely on the Delaware River with the New Castle Sailing Club for which organization he was also commodore, but also in the islands and anywhere else that presented a suitable opportunity.

Other interests included woodworking and languages. Built-in cabinetry, furniture, and household items were his specialties. Though he was not fluent in any language but English, he could travel in any of a dozen or so, as he did, widely, for many years.

Harrison is survived by his son and daughter, three granddaughters, McCrae, Joann, and Jenny, two great-granddaughters, and his wife, Marty, to whom he hereby apologizes for leaving her in the lurch.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday February 18th at Havenwood in Concord, NH. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Residents' Support Fund at Havenwood Heritage Heights, Amendysis Hospice of Londonderry, NH, or .
Published in The News Journal on Jan. 31, 2017
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