February 21, 2002 - Albany Times Union: Costa Rica RPCV Ralph Harbison dies at 59

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Costa Rica: Peace Corps Costa Rica : The Peace Corps in Costa Rica: February 21, 2002 - Albany Times Union: Costa Rica RPCV Ralph Harbison dies at 59

By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, February 23, 2002 - 8:46 am: Edit Post

Costa Rica RPCV Ralph Harbison dies at 59

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UAlbany dean and leader Ralph Harbison, 59, dies while skiing *

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UAlbany dean and leader Ralph Harbison, 59, dies while skiing

Feb 21, 2002 - Times Union-Albany NY Author(s): Alan Wechsler Staff Writer

Ralph W. Harbison II, who worked around the world for nearly four decades before becoming a University at Albany dean, died Saturday doing what he loved -- skiing. He was 59.

Harbison had cross-country skied about a mile into the five-mile trail to Avalanche Lake in the Adirondack High Peaks region when he suffered a heart attack. He was with his brother, Bill, a cardiologist, along with other family members and friends.

"There was nothing that could be done," said his cousin, Claire Barnett of Saratoga Springs.

Harbison, who lived in Slingerlands and Willsboro, Essex County, was appointed dean of the UAlbany School of Education in 2000 following a distinguished career with the Ford Foundation and World Bank. At UAlbany, he was credited with strengthening academic and research programs, improving management and expanding community involvement.

"Dean Harbison was a passionate advocate for leadership," President Karen Hitchcock said. "He believed deeply in the power of education."

Harbison was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Chicago and Princeton, N.J. He graduated from Harvard and received a Ph.D. in modernization and development economics from Princeton University in 1973.

In 1965, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, and met his wife, Irene, there. As a program adviser for the Ford Foundation for 11 years, he worked in Bogota, Colombia, where his two children were born, and in Nigeria.

For the World Bank, he worked in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa on social programs to help countries shifting from totalitarian regimes to democratic governments.

On Wednesday, Barnett recalled how Harbison helped her when her husband, Tim, broke his neck on a fact-finding trip to Kyrgyzstan. In June 1997, she was in Zurich, Switzerland, where her husband was recovering, and she couldn't find a hotel room.

Harbison, who spoke four languages fluently, stopped by on his way back from Bucharest. "Ralph stayed over an extra day or so and made it his job to find me a bed and breakfast," Barnett said. "I will always treasure the fact that he found me a wonderful place to stay."

In addition to his wife, who teaches English as a second language, and his brother, who lives in Longmeadow, Mass., Harbison is survived by his children, who seem to have inherited his passion for travel. Jennifer, a high school history teacher, was recently in India, and Fred is a wilderness guide, firefighter and EMT in Fairbanks, Alaska. Harbison is also survived by his his mother, Josephine Harbison, of Newton, Pa.

The family will have a private service in the Adirondacks on Saturday. Plans for memorial services in Albany, Washington, D.C., and Willsboro will be announced.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; RPCV News - Obituaries; COS Costa Rica



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