Patricia Jane Harrison

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADURHAM, N.C. and BAR HARBOR—Patricia Jane Harrison passed away peacefully on the evening of March 22, 2015, at her home in Durham, N.C. David, her husband of 47 years, was by her side. She was 70 years old.

Born on March 30, 1944, Tricia (as she was known) grew up in Oakland, Calif. Shortly after her marriage to David, they started a new life in Bar Harbor. She was an elementary school teacher in California and Maine, later a full-time mother, and then spent 13 years on biomedical research with mice at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor. Tricia loved her family, the outdoors, gardens, birds and animals.

Anyone who hiked, walked or drove with Tricia during the 44 years she spent on Mount Desert Island benefited from her eagerness to learn and her sharp sense of inquiry. Tricia knew the names of mountains, islands, hawks and songbirds, waterfowl, and flowers and plants. She researched the history, both natural and human-made, of the places she lived. Photography was a serious hobby for Tricia, and her pictures (several published in the Bar Harbor Times) chronicled her life in the heart of Acadia National Park.

Tricia’s sense of inquiry served her well in her work at the Jackson Laboratory, where she helped to pioneer a new method of testing the development of baby mice. Tricia believed in accurate research with kind treatment for the mice in her care. She gave long-lived, lone, elderly mice a young, gentle “sweetie” to provide comfort and companionship. Tricia was the best in her group at predicting an old mouse’s lifespan, a valuable skill in mouse aging studies.

Tricia’s eagerness to learn was prevalent throughout her life. When she and David began wintering in Durham, N.C., Tricia explored the area’s nature trails and gardens and learned about the local plants and wildlife. Tricia and David were avid international folk dancers throughout their lives and members of four groups in North Carolina.

Tricia’s warm and unassuming attitude helped her make friends easily. She and David were best friends before they married, and continued to be best friends throughout their lives. Tricia was a great friend, making you feel good about yourself when you were with her. And she was attuned to the beauty of small things. Even after her illness limited her mobility, she found meaning and happiness in flower gardens, backyard birds, and mystery novels and her family, most of all, to whom she was very close.

Tricia is survived by her husband, David Harrison, her son, Pete Harrison, and daughter-in-law, Sara Harrison; her daughter, Diane Magras, son-in-law, Michael Magras, and grandson Benjamin Magras; and her son, Mark Harrison.

Gifts in memory of Tricia may be made to The Jackson Laboratory to benefit the Summer Student Program. Please make donations payable to and mail to: The Jackson Laboratory, P.O. Box 254, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, or give online at We hope to raise enough to provide a fund in her name.

Know when to pay your respects.