Larry Lee Harmon Dies; Former Sitkan was 83

Larry Lee Harmon

Larry Lee Harmon passed away on September 18, 2023, at the age of 83, in Clackamas County, Oregon, surrounded by the love of his family.

Larry was a fixture of Sitka for many years, serving as the Public Works director and city engineer during the 1980s and 1990s.

Larry Harmon was born April 27, 1940, in Lincoln, Nebraska, the son of  Alcena Foland and George Harmon. When he was 10 his mother died of tub tuberculosis, and Larry eventually joined his father, a Foreign Service agronomist, in Egypt to attend school at the American base in Cairo. During the Suez Canal crisis of 1956, Larry and his father had to be evacuated to neighboring Libya.

Larry and his friend’s family toured Europe on mopeds and took an ocean liner back to the United States where he would eventually return to his senior year at East High School in Sioux City, Iowa, graduating in 1958.

While studying at Iowa State University, Larry met the love of his life, Joanne Harmon, on a blind date on New Year’s Eve, 1963. They married not quite a year later on Dec. 19, 1964, during a snowstorm.

After Larry graduated with bachelor of science degree in civil engineering, he and Joanne moved to Washington state, where he worked for the Washington State Department of Transportation, helping plan the I-5 corridor through Seattle and later the 405 freeway, near where they would purchase their first home in Kirkland, Washington. The move was the first of many, as Larry never lost the wanderlust instilled in his youth.

After the birth of their first son, Scott, in 1972, the Harmons moved to Chehalis, Washington, to finish up on the I-5 corridor. And then in 1975 an opportunity to work in Alaska arose. Larry worked as a contract engineer for the Alyeska Pipeline in Fairbanks for two years, during which their second son, Michael, was born.

From 1977 to 1981, Larry worked for private engineering consultants in the Seattle area before moving to Sitka, where they would stay put for a whole ten years.

During his tenure with the City of Sitka, Larry was responsible for leading many important infrastructure projects including converting a majority of streets from gravel to pavement, and remodeling and expansions of the Rocky Gutierrez airport, Blatchley Middle School, and Kettleson Memorial Library.

He also oversaw the completion of the City Wastewater Treatment Plant, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary school, Sealing Cove Harbor, Eliason Harbor and its breakwater, and the lightering docks under the O’Connell Bridge and at Crescent Harbor. Those were among many other projects, too numerous to include.

Larry was an amazing and positive influence on his two sons and both followed his career path into civil engineering.

The impact that Larry had on the town of Sitka was mirrored in his love for the town and its surroundings.

All those who knew him enjoyed his infectious laugh and could tell you that he was never happier than when he was in a boat. He loved to explore the islands around Sitka and take visitors out fishing, where they would always catch a bigger salmon than he did. The Harmons explored much of Southeast Alaska in their various boats, with each successive boat gaining about five feet on the last.

As a boater’s paradise, Southeast Alaska continued to call Larry back year after year, even after he retired from the City of Sitka for the second time in 1997. Larry and Joanne then moved to Whidbey Island where Larry continued to work as a civil engineer in Mukilteo, Blaine and Lynden, Washington, until he retired “for real.”

Also an avid golfer, Larry enjoyed the golfing opportunities available “down south,” while continuing to boat in and around the Puget Sound. The Harmons cruised from Sitka to Bellingham several times during these years, enjoying the beauty of the Inside Passage in a way that many can only imagine.

Larry is survived by his wife, Joanne; his sons, Scott and Michael, and their wives, Heidi (Fry) and Kealoha (Harrison); and his four grandchildren, Stephen, Amy, Jackson and Alice.

A celebration of his life will be held Jan. 6, in in Lincoln City, Oregon, and a subsequent memorial when his ashes will be laid to rest in his beloved Sitka in the summer of 2024.

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July 2004
Photo caption: Junior League All Stars will compete in a tournament in Wrangell. From left are Bryn Calhoun, Chris Scott, Sean O’Neill, Ross Venneberg, Caleb McGraw, Richard Carlos, Jacob Houston, Coby McCarty, Bryan Lovett and Daniel Erickson.


July 1974

Photo caption: Volunteers leave the Yaw Building Library with loads of books being transferred to the new Orin and Betty Stratton Library on the Sheldon Jackson campus. SJC librarian Evelyn Bonner expressed appreciation to the community for the help.


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