Dr. Robert Joe Harrison was one of the nicest people I have ever known. As his patient at the Maui Medical Group Lahaina and then as his gardener at his Kaanapali home over a span of 35 years, I never heard a cross word come out of his mouth. Quite to the contrary, he would always express kindness and courtesy whenever we would meet and show a genuine interest in me and my family. I'm sure that he was the same way with all who were blessed to know him.
The good "Doc" passed away peacefully last month at the age of 83, leaving behind his faithful wife of 61 years, Cherry; daughters Paula (Gary) Hays, Cindy (Doug) Schenk, Susan (Ibrahim) Dik and Martha (Scott) Tipton; grandchildren Cristina Schenk, Kevin (Ashley) Schenk, John Tipton and Susan Tipton; hanai granddaughter Jenny Pickett; and great-grandchildren Emma and Aukai Schenk.
As expressed by family and friends at his celebration of life at Waiola Church, Dr. Harrison lived a Christian life that manifested respect and appreciation for all human beings and a defining optimism for the future.
I, for one, was fortunate enough to experience firsthand the integrity of his beautiful spirit in his care for us as our family doctor, and in the later years working for him doing yard work. I was particularly impressed to watch him in recent times concentrating on the computer doing DNA research - still with a thirst, a passion, to gain scientific knowledge in the field of medicine.
I was fortunate also to get to know his daughters and grandchildren and to experience the kindred spirit in all of them that their parents have paid forward to the benefit of generations to come. Indeed, his life legacy creates a sense of optimism for the future.
"A Poem for Poppy" by Dr. Harrison's granddaughter, Cristina Schenk, perhaps said it best: "If the blood that runs through your veins, is the blood that runs through mine, then in each and every one of us, you've left something of yours behind. Of all your many qualities, I would be blessed with one or two. Kindness, Character, Compassion, I know I've learned from you. The adventure of your spirit, your will to learn and know and share, has pushed us all to places we've loved, your encouragement always there. In every corner big and small, it was laughter you always found. Your clever and brilliant tongue drew smiles all around. Even strangers never went on being strange for very long. The world was your family, humanity your sweetest song. And now you leave us with each other, all each a part of you. For the blood that runs through your veins, still runs through our veins, too."
The community sends its sincere condolences to Dr. Harrison's family, with the comforting thought that this world is a better place due to his life here on Earth and the cherished impression it will leave for the future.