William Harrison
1938 - 2020
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William Henry HarrisonJanuary 1938 – April 2020William "Bill" Harrison passed peacefully on April 26, 2020 in his home and with his family after a brief illness. He was born in San Francisco on January 12, 1938 as the sixth of nine children and first son of Margaret (Bermingham) and Patrick Joseph Harrison.
Bill is survived by his beautiful and wonderful wife Kathryn Pennypacker Harrison; son Brian Harrison, daughter-in-law Edna (Eddy) and grandchildren Sophia and Michael; daughter Paula McCarroll, son-in-law David McCarroll and grandchildren Abigail, William (Liam) and Noelle; stepdaughter Caroline Cincotta, son-in-law Forest Kaser and grandchild Nora; stepdaughter Elizabeth McBride, son-in-law Andrew and grandchildren Kathryn (Kate), Sarah and Charlotte; sisters Helen Latham, Catherine McGrath and Frances Harrison, brother Patrick Harrison and his wife Diane, first cousin Larry Norton, many cousins in Ireland and in the U.S., and lifelong friends. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, son Kevin Harrison, and sisters Irene Harrison, Patricia Metzger, Mary Passanisi, and Margaret Marshall.
Bill grew up Irish Catholic in the Richmond District and attended elementary school at Saint Monica and St. Thomas the Apostle with his beloved sister Mary. He played football and track at St. Ignatius High School before graduating in 1955.After high school, Bill joined the Army and was deployed to Italy where he played baseball, traveled, and operated Nike Ajax missile batteries. Upon his return, he studied economics at USF before joining the newly formed Peace Corps in 1963. Bill met his first love, Carol (Erickson), during pre-service training before he was selected to lead the Peace Corps' first mission to Espirito Santo, Brazil.
Bill and Carol were married from 1964 until 1991. They started a family while Bill worked as an accountant, completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at USF, and did a brief stint in the SFFD.In 1973, Bill moved his young family from the City to suburban Terra Linda in San Rafael, where he and Carol raised their three children. Bill enjoyed all sports, but loved nothing more than coaching and watching his three kids Brian, Kevin and Paula play football, basketball, baseball, softball and track. Always generous with his time, he served as President of the Terra Linda Pop Warner football program and Director of the St. Isabella Track program for several years.
Bill joined the U.S. Department of HUD in the early 1970s working in the affordable housing division where his skills as a creative thinker and natural leader were soon recognized and he received early promotions into leadership roles. In 1983,Bill was recruited by a large Southern California based real estate syndication company to run its massive nationwide portfolio of low income housing. He left a lasting mark in the preservation and stabilization of countless affordable housing developments throughout the country. Bill returned to his beloved San Rafael in 1990 to do similar work on a smaller scale and started his own company in 2000, where he worked until he retired in 2012. He always wished he'd gone out on his own earlier to enjoy the freedom that comes with being your own boss.
Bill's strong character was evident in the qualities he showed throughout his work life: be honest and direct with your clients and staff, do your homework, work hard and be thorough, don't take the easy way out to make things easier on yourself, acknowledge mistakes and move on. He was unusual in that he understood the technical detail of an issue while also having a global view. You wanted him on your side of an argument whether it was due to the strength of his argument or simply his tenacity. Even those who disagreed respected him. The non-profit boards he worked with towards the end of his career didn't want him to retire. They sought his valued and trusted advice for years after he retired. He offered it freely.
In 1991, he met Kathryn when he was a witness in a housing dispute that Kathryn was handling. They married in 1993 and he helped raise Kathryn's lovely daughters Caroline and Elizabeth.Bill adored Kathryn, his wife of 27 years, and spent much of his time in his last few years caring for her as she coped with her own illness. When not with her, Bill enjoyed spending time with his kids and his grandchildren, getting together with his siblings and close friends, and gathering monthly for lunch at Capps' Corner or Original Joe's with his SI Class of 55' classmates. From the time his father passed when he was only 17, Bill served as the patriarch of a large Irish family providing guidance, leadership and a "voice of reason" when it was needed most. He was thoughtful, wise, generous, kind,strong-willed and extremely determined. He was a terrific orator and his family, friends and colleagues looked forward to listening to him speak at important events. As he often said, "Family is what matters most!"Bill lived a rich and full life and will be dearly missed.
A memorial service celebrating Bill's life will be announced to family and friends later on. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association. A special thanks from Bill's family to Mary and Doreen who have provided so much compassion and support for Bill and Kathryn.

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Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Apr. 29 to May 10, 2020.
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4 entries
May 4, 2020
So very sorry to hear about Bill. Initially, I knew about Bill mostly through Kathryn, but always felt happy for both of them, having such a strong and loving relationship. I got to see him more recently with a group of Kathryn's work friends who would come to visit her. I could tell what a smart, knowledgeable and caring man he was, and how important family was to him. But it was not until I read the death notice that I understood how varied and impressive his many accomplishments were. It is such a loss for Kathryn and all the family.
Paula Jesson
May 3, 2020
I met Bill when we both were in an Alzheimer's support group for caregivers in San Rafael; both of our wives were diagnosed at about the same time. I enjoyed meeting & getting to know Bill. Condolences to the family.
Rob Ruby
April 30, 2020
You were a great person and friend to our class of 1955. And you will be missed by all...
April 29, 2020
Sorry for the loss of your loved one. May God of life gives you the comfort and peace you need in these difficult times. Psalms 36:9. BCO
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