Harris Hyman, one of the great teachers in the early years of College of the Atlantic, died on Nov. 21, 2018. He was born on Nov. 29, 1936, in Philadelphia, Pa., and was one of the most delightful people any of us have ever known. He was brilliant and eccentric and very kind.
Harris was an engineer by training. He graduated from MIT, where he worked on the earliest version of computers and was a nationally ranked wrestler. After graduation, he worked on the containment vessel for the first nuclear sub.
He married the children’s book illustrator Trina Schart. They moved to Vermont, where they had a daughter, Katrin. Katrin and Harris can be found as the models in the pages of many of Trina’s award-winning publications.
In 1976, Harris moved to Bar Harbor, where he helped create the Environmental Design Program at College of the Atlantic. He taught engineering, solar design, computer programming, design and construction. His eccentric and often Socratic way of teaching captured the interest of his students and they remained close friends long after graduation. One of the classes Harris was involved in creating the small Mount Desert Historical Society’s storage and display building beside the bridge in Somesville. Harris designed and engineered the iconic Somesville Bridge a few years later. He was involved in the first restoration of the Turrets, a historic stone building on College of the Atlantic’s campus where he also designed the campus pier on Frenchman Bay. Harris was also responsible for the solar and structural design of the Wendell Gilley Museum in Southwest Harbor. In 1978, during the height of the country’s first energy crisis, the Department of Energy in Washington asked Harris to take part in the design of a model passive solar building for the New England area.
Harris married Karon Jack in 1979. They had two children, Leah and Jake. They lived in Lamoine with Leah, Jake and Karen’s children Katie, Bill, Abby and John for many years. Theirs was a vibrant, active and delightful home.
No one who has ever met Harris will forget him. He was humble and understated but led a larger than life existence. His presence always meant a funny thought and laughter was just around the corner. His brilliant reasoning contributed as much to the philosophy and creativity of an issue as it did to its practical, engineered solution. His presence on Mount Desert Island created some of our most beautiful and historic and ingenious buildings. He is loved by his colleagues, students and family and his impact on our surroundings and our lives will live for a very long time.