Douglas E. Harrison
Douglas E. Harrison of Little Torch Key, Florida died on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, at age 78, due to complications from an accidental head injury sustained in October. He and his wife Susan built a home on Little Torch, where Doug lived out his life fishing, diving, and rebuilding antique cars. He was active in Monroe County politics and gave of his time, talents, and resources to local nonprofits. Doug will be missed by many.
Doug was born on Jan. 18, 1942 in Baltimore, MD. He grew up in Ellicott City and graduated from Catonsville High School in 1960. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in engineering from University of Maryland and a Master’s degree in paleontology from University of Minnesota.
Doug joined the U.S. Navy in 1961. Within two years, he was accepted into flight school, and he received his wings on Dec. 17, 1964. He flew 114 combat missions in Vietnam and was awarded the Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign, and National Defense. His last active duty mission was Attack Squadron ONE TWO FIVE. He was discharged on June 26, 1968.
In 1968, Doug started his 35 year career as a pilot for Northwest Airlines. He worked his way up from Second Officer to Captain, flying Boeing 707, 727, 757, 747, The Airbus and the DC 10. He flew both domestically and to Europe and Asia. In addition to pilot, Doug also served as a check airman and flight instructor. Some of his fondest memories were flying to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba and meeting Fidel Castro, and instructing pilots when Northwest Airlines sent planes to Kenya, where he met Jomo Kenyatta.
On St. Patrick’s Day in 1981, Doug met a flight attendant named Susan in Orlando. Doug and Susan married on Oct. 15, 1982 at Pilgrim Heights in Montour, IA. They made a life together in the Florida Keys, and after his retirement as a 747-400 Captain in 2002, the two began traveling the US in an RV with their dogs.
Doug served two terms as President of Jolly Roger Estates Homeowners Association and was instrumental in erecting the flag pole that stands at the entrance today. He was a member of the Southernmost Republican Club and worked on many successful campaigns. Serving as Campaign Manager for Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay was a proud moment for Doug.
Doug also served several terms as a board member for The Monroe Association for ReMARCable Citizens and was a past member of the Military Affairs Committee.
Doug is survived by his wife, Susan Dirks Harrison and his puppies, Flash III and Elie II; his beloved in-laws, Harlan and Darlene Dirks; Nathan and Valerie (Dirks) Behounek, Carie Behounek, Juliet Sherman, Jacob and Amy Behounek, Aaron and Sarah (Behounek) Kassen; Sandra Dirks; David and Ardella Dirks, Ryan and Shelby (Dirks) Speicher, Todd Dirks and Hayley Proenza, Kyle Dirks and Ryan Gruber, Ryan Dirks, Natasha Ribby and Jake Dirks.
Doug was preceded in death by his parents, Carl Lee Harrison and Rita Marie (Russo) Harrison, Brothers, Donald Harrison and Lee Harrison and Sister, Libby( Harrison) Stone.
Donations may be made in Doug’s name in one of three area nonprofits:
Monroe County Stars of Hope
c/o Major Tim Age
5501 College Road
Key West, FL 33040
Cooking With Love
c/o Reverend Steve Torrence
1215 Petronia St.
Key West, FL 33040
Florida Keys SPCA
c/o Tara McFarland
10550 Aviation Blvd.
Marathon, FL 33050