Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Joe Harris, Coolest Dude at the Opera
The Green Room at the Veterans Building was host to a memorial on Monday afternoon.
The person commemorated was Joseph B. Harris (1924-2007), an Oklahoma City boy who served in the Navy in World War II, went to college at UC Berkeley, and then taught English and Drama at George Washington High School in San Francisco for 30 years.
In 1961, he took on a night job as a dresser in the basement of the San Francisco Opera House and over the next 40 years he rose in the ranks to become the Head Dresser of Room 11, just off the stage door, which is the dressing room for the lead male singer of each opera.
He was probably the wisest, coolest person at the San Francisco Opera for decades...
...and even though political battles and feuds raged in every department at that institution, Joe Harris seemed to be the one person who was loved and respected by everyone.
John Rothmann, the KGO radio weekend talk host, was one of his students at George Washington High School, and he gave a long speech at the memorial that was unfortunately a little bit too much about John and not enough about Joe, but that's one of the pitfalls of memorial services. People get in front of a microphone and it's all about me, me, me rather than the actual subject at hand.
I don't envy the lives of many people, but Joe Harris' life may be one of them (he's pictured above in a nice photo by Mike Harvey). For more info on the fab gentleman, click here for a write-up by Andrew Korniej at the San Francisco supernumerary website.