Hugh Ward Harris
Hugh Ward Harris died peacefully in his home in Lake Tahoe on July 19, 2018, surrounded by his family. He was 88.
Hugh was born on December 29, 1929, in Berkeley, California, to Ruth and Thomas Harris. He was raised in Berkeley and spent early summers in Inverness, California. In nearby Tomales Bay, he sailed model sailboats and developed a lifelong passion for boating.
He attended College of Marin and San Francisco State University. Hugh liked to say that he “sailed” through college, as he spent most of those years sailing on the San Francisco Bay, his “misspent youth.”
For 63 years he was a member of San Francisco Yacht Club. He sailed Star, Mercury and Rhodes boats in the 1950’s and ‘60’s and restored and successfully class-raced a Bird boat named Oriole during the last 10 years of his life. He was chief judge of the Tahoe Yacht Club Concours d’Elegance for years.
Hugh worked for Coldwell Banker in San Francisco in the Property Management department for 30 years, retiring in 1986. Hugh met Muriel McCarthy there, during her 18-month career in the escrow department. They were married in 1964 and the couple moved to Belvedere, California, where they raised their two children, Elizabeth and Greg.
Hugh had a deep love for the west shore of Lake Tahoe and especially the community of Homewood. He rented a small cabin on the banks of Ward Creek in 1962 and was hooked. With snow chains packed, most winter weekends were spent driving the family to Tahoe and hoping Donner Pass was open. His family have fond memories of summer picnics at Sugar Pine Point State Park on his Chris Craft sedan ‘Truant,’ walking the local boat yards with him, going on donut runs to Tahoma after an early morning water ski, and even the dreaded sanding and varnishing of mahogany hulls under his watchful eye.
Hugh was a fun-loving prankster. He often spoke of the “old days” in Belvedere, with its many salty characters and old houseboats moored in the cove. He was most definitely one of those characters. He maintained a charge account at Sam’s Bar at the age of 18, from where untold hijinks were perpetrated. Many a piano went overboard in Hospital Cove (now Ayala) at Angel Island during Opening Day festivities in those years.
Hugh was also a dedicated volunteer throughout his life. At St. Hilary School in Tiburon, while his children attended elementary school there in the 1980’s, he served on the Parish Finance Council for many years. For 20 years, Hugh served as a board member for the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society, and spearheaded a highly popular annual domino tournament to raise funds for the museum. For the last 15 years of his life, he worked diligently on behalf of St. Vincent’s School for Boys in San Rafael. He raised funds for the restoration of St. Vincent’s Chapel as well as numerous capital improvements to the boys’ home. He escorted a group of the boys to Mass and to breakfast each and every Sunday there.
Hugh is survived by his wife, Muriel Harris; his daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and Tim Hachman of Belvedere; his son and daughter-in-law, Greg and Meghan Harris of San Francisco; and five grandchildren, Charlotte, Cecilia and Caroline Hachman and Muriel Grace and John Harris. He was known to them as “Gampy”; if any vintage car would pass on the road, a grandchild would claim that it must be Gampy at the wheel.
Hugh’s family would like to acknowledge Veri Singh and her extended family for their thoughtful care of Hugh during his last days.
Hugh will be buried in a private ceremony. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated on Friday, September 7 at 11 a.m. at St. Hilary Church in Tiburon, followed by a luncheon at the San Francisco Yacht Club, 98 Beach Road, Belvedere. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Hugh’s life. If you wish to make a donation in Hugh’s memory, please donate to any of the following organizations: St. Vincent’s School for Boys House Renovation, 1 St. Vincent’s Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903; North Lake Tahoe Historical Society, P.O. Box 6141, Tahoe City, CA 96145; or Tahoe Forest Hospice Services, P.O. Box 759, Truckee, CA 96160.