Obituary: Robert “Bob” Ren Harrison

Posted at 10:40 AM, Mar 26, 2021

Robert “Bob” Ren Harrison passed away on February 15, 2021, at home in Bozeman, Montana, following a long fight against the devastating effects of Multiple Sclerosis. His wife Maggee (nee Bates) and son J.D. Ren stayed by his side as he departed on his next adventure – it was a loving and comforting goodbye to a “Rambling Man” who was well-loved and well-traveled.

Bob was born in Kinston, NY, on December 12, 1948, and brought home to New Paltz, NY, by his parents, John D. and Myrtle Alice Harrison. Along with his older brothers, J. Stephen (w. Bonnie) and Jamie (w. Martha), he spent his childhood as a camper and later on as a staff member at Camp Laurel, a co-educational summer camp founded by his parents and their business partner Merrill and Bette Archard, on Lake Awosting, in what is now the Minnewaska State Preserve in New Paltz, NY.

The Harrisons relocated to Plattsburgh, NY, when Bob was a senior in High School. He played football and campaigned to become the class “clown” of his graduating class. Bob was an amazing downhill skier, hunter, fisherman and outdoorsman. He was a loyal friend and mentor to many.

After graduating from SUNY – Plattsburgh, Bob spent an eventful winter exploring the Wasatch Mountain Range in Utah and the Grand Targhees. Various friends joined him on some of these adventures which are the events from which legends are made.

Bob returned east and entered the United States Peace Corps as a volunteer in Micronesia’s Marshal Islands. He was assigned to serve on Rongelap Atoll as an ESL teacher. This remote atoll was inhabited by 111 people, 11 feet above sea-level and visited rarely by outsiders. Bob embraced this challenge like he did life – with enthusiasm, dedication and a boundless love of the great outdoors. He enjoyed spearfishing, listening to men tell island stories and even sailed the traditional way to Bikini Atoll with an elderly man who knew how to navigate by following the stars, waves and currents. He was well-loved by Islanders and was affectionately knowns as LaBob.

Following his volunteer service Bob continued his association with the Peace Corps in various positions including as a recruitment, selection, and placement specialist. His career spanned over twenty-five years and culminated as Acting Director of Human Resources in Washington, DC. He was able to travel all over the world visiting missions, which kept him grounded and enriched beyond words. During this time, he also worked for the United States Agency for International Development and attended the Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, MA.

Upon his retirement he moved his family back to his beloved Rocky Mountains. Leaving air conditioning, heavy/wet snow and constant traffic gridlock behind. Bob didn’t miss a beat in his volunteer service to the community that he loved in Bozeman and the outdoor activities that made his spirit free. Hunting, fishing, horseback riding and skiing, he enjoyed, as long as his body allowed him – often with the help of his loyal friends and Eagle Mount Adaptive Recreational Center. But, what Bob enjoyed most, was family. Being a husband, father and uncle brought him the greatest joy.

There will be a memorial service later on this year where folks will be asked to share many of the known and unknown “stories” of this beloved mountain man who left his mark on so many of the worlds’ people. God bless you Bob – rest in peace and enjoy your new adventures.

Those who wish to do so may make donations in Bob’s memory to the “Meals on Wheels” program of the Bozeman Senior Center (807 North Tracy Avenue, Bozeman, MT, 59715) or the Adaptive Horsemanship Program at Eagle Mount (6901 Goldenstein Lane, Bozeman, MT 59718 or Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service