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Ex-congressman mourned

Former representative of 11th Congressional District found dead in Galveston.

Then-candidate Frank Harrison, center, at Sept. 23, 1982, ribbon-cutting in Wilkes-Barre with former congressmen Ray Musto, left, currently a state senator, and Dan Flood.

TIMES LEADER FILE PHOTO/Richard Sabatura

Former U.S. Congressman Frank Harrison, a longtime Wilkes-Barre resident and attorney, has died in Galveston, Texas.

According to an obituary that appeared in the Galveston County Daily News on Wednesday, Harrison was found in his condominium where he died of natural causes, authorities said. He was 69.

Harrison was born in Washington, D.C., Feb. 2, 1940, and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Wilkes-Barre in 1957, according to a biographical directory of the U.S. Congress that was printed in the Galveston obituary. He was a graduate of King’s College. Harrison attended Harvard Law School and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar.

He began practicing law in Wilkes-Barre in 1965.

He served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force from 1966 to 1969 and was a college professor until 1982. Harrison was elected as a Democrat to Congress and served from 1983 to 1985. After his re-election bid failed, he resumed his law practice.

Attorney Donald Brobst, of Rosenn, Jenkins and Greenwald, had known Harrison since they met at the city law firm in 1976.

Brobst said Harrison moved to San Antonio shortly after he was defeated in his re-election bid in 1984. Harrison lost in the Democratic Primary to Paul Kanjorski, who has held the seat since.

The Galveston obituary reported “a property manager, who hadn’t seen Harrison for some time, found him Monday in his home at 7800 Seawall Boulevard and called authorities, said Galveston police spokesman Lt. D.J. Alvarez.”

The account states Harrison was pronounced dead at 5:15 p.m. and died of natural causes, but a toxicology test is pending, according to Galveston County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Pustilnik. It was unknown whether Harrison was vacationing on the island or if he had a permanent residence there, the story stated.

Brobst said Harrison left direction that he was to be cremated and his ashes be returned to a cousin, Sister Ann Marie Harrison, in Immaculata, near West Chester.

“I last spoke to Frank at the end of March,” Sister Ann Marie said. “We had a long conversation and he sounded fine to me.”

She said the family will miss him greatly and private funeral arrangements are being made.

“We are very proud of Frank and his many accomplishments since he was a young boy,” she said.

Sister Ann Marie said memorial contributions may be sent to the Trinity University Debate Program, Department of Speech and Drama, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212-7200, attention Jarrod Atchison. Harrison was a college professor until 1982 at Trinity University, where he directed the debate team.

Harrison won the 11th Congressional District seat in Congress when he defeated Republican Jim Nelligan in 1982.

“Frank was a very viable and tough opponent; a very bright guy,” Nelligan said. “I would like to offer my sincere condolences to his family.”

Kanjorski, D-Nanticoke, provided an e-mailed statement on Harrison’s unexpected passing.

“As we mourn the loss of Congressman Frank Harrison, I pass along my thoughts and prayers to his family and friends,” Kanjorski said.

“Frank and I knew each other as college debaters. Since first meeting him, and throughout our professional careers, I have always respected Frank for his strong intellectual abilities. After his political career, he joined the classroom as a college professor where he benefited the education and lives of many students. He will be missed.”

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