Gordon "Gordie" Harrison

Howdy Friend and Gordy Harrison in the 1940's (Photo courtesy of Howdy Friend)

Gordon Harrison was a camper, staff member in the 1940s under Jack McPhee, board member and chairman, Joe Check Memorial Award winner, and financial supporter of Camp Fitch. Harrison Lodge is dedicated in his honor.

Gordie was born on April 14, 1925 to Stephen and Catherine Lisko Harrison. He graduated from South High School in 1943 and Cornell University in 1948. He would spend 25 years as President of Tasco Insulation. He passed away on April 7, 1998, after a battle with cancer.[1] However, he wrote the following letter to the alumni of Camp Fitch two weeks prior to his death. Rather than transcribe the facts the first hand account has been left intact:

The letters from Camp Fitch Alumni which I read in “After Candlelight” evoke many memories.

If memories are so different and personnel, why is it that both Howdy Friend and Pete Finamore recall so vividly playing basketball in the rain on a muddy court? Why is it that both, during separate conversations remember the campers watching the game from their tents like racoons from a hollow tree? Is there any significance that both became educators?

What compelled me to write Aunt Mary McPhee about Uncle John McPhee and my frog hunting? Equipped with pillow cases, short length 2×4's, and flashlights we went to Crooked Creek, got our frogs, and returned to the dining hall kitchen, fried and ate frog legs.

As a staff member, each night at 11:30pm a pair of us made the rounds, checked each tent and key facilities. One night my partner and I failed to check the water well and pump. Some how Uncle John discovered our negligence. He taught us a strong lesson related to responsibility which we never forgot.

My most interesting and learning experience came as a tent leader. One period the campers were from the Smokey Hollow district of Youngstown. I remember now only Lou Sequilla, Gene Rossi, Joe Clemento, and Pete Finamore. Lou, Gene, and Pete became star football players. Many things at camp were strange to these kids. For example, Pete absolutely could not adjust to camp food. I watched him carefully for a clue of something he might like. Well low and behold he liked lettuce. As you can imagine there was plenty of lettuce left over at various tables.

Each of my scholarship campers had to write a note to their sponsor, Mr. George Oles a downtown merchant. It was quite a revelation to me that someone cared enough about kids to pay for their camping experience.

Other campers I can recall having in my tent, Billy Newell, Rick Berryman, Mallenkopf Fitzpatrick, Hugh Hayward, Fred Ullman, and Benny Agler. Billy Newell later played football at Ohio State and Rick Berryman was a long time teacher and coach at Columbiana High School.

My most significant task as a tent leader was going bunk to bunk after bedtime devotionals in an effort to secure a personal response from each to the message.

My greatest challenge as tent leader was my relationship with a handicap youngster I had in my tent all summer. I had to watch him constantly, bathe him, get him to activities on time, and most importantly, I had to make sure his “twiddlers” did not become lost or hidden by another camper. He had small pieces of wood which he would continuously “twiddle” between his thumb and forefinger, and if he couldn't find them, he became agitated.

I could write a book about my camp days, Unfortunately, I can't put into words the humor, depth of friendship and emotions, role models, twilight vespers services, and development of a work ethic I learned at Camp Fitch.

We old timers think our camp days were better. However, the current campers and staff members share the same degree of excitement and enthusiasm with me.

Gordon Harrison

March, 1998

Camp Timeline

Gordie was a camper in the 1930s. He worked on staff through the 1940s with Howdy Friend and Robert Serfass. He served as assistant village director in 1942 and became a village director in 1943.[2]. By our Golden Anniversary in 1964, he was on the Camp Fitch Board of Management along side: Ed Enterline, James E. Bennett, Jack McPhee, Charles Maag, Phil Tear, Fred Soller and others.[3] By 1972, Gordie was Chairman of the Camp Fitch Board.[4][(:

References

1. a Youngstown Vindicator, April 7, 1998. Gordon W. Harrison, 72. Vindicator Printing Company.
2. a Youngstown Vindicator, June 5, 1943. Harrison and Serfass on Camp Fitch Staff. Vindicator Printing Company.
3. a Tear, Phil, 1964. Camp Fitch Golden Anniversary. Allied Printing, pp.1-35.
4. a Camp Fitch, 1989. Camp Fitch 75th Anniversary. Allied Printing, pp.1-36.
Print/export