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Cook-Walden Funeral Home

6100 North Lamar, Austin, TX

OBITUARY

Rich Owen Harney

June 7, 1954January 5, 2020
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Rich Owen Harney was born on June 7, 1954 in Champaign, Illinois and passed away on January 5, 2020 in Kyle, Texas.

Services

  • Rosary Service Thursday, January 9, 2020
  • Memorial Service Friday, January 10, 2020

Memories

Rich Owen Harney

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Bob Haslanger

January 10, 2020

Rich was the most open hearted man I’ve ever known. If you engaged him honestly, in no time he would open his life and his heart to you. He made real friends every where he went because he was always present to the possibility that everyone he met could be his friend.
Dawn and I met him through our church family in the early 80’s. He became part of our family immediately. He didn’t drive. We often drove him to whatever gig or appointment or meeting he just had to get to. We were rewarded with non-stop stories of Rich’s adventures. We were rewarded with his laughter. We were rewarded with his unreserved love.
We moved from Austin in 1986 but return at least once a year. When we’d see Rich, his face would light up with surprise and he’d laugh like he just got a present.
Rich was a joy to know. We miss him. We will always miss him.

Jon Blondell

January 10, 2020

Rich always played, and sang, with great honesty and beauty. He left us much too soon. But, the music of the next realm is beyond any on this plane, and he'll be sure to be playing it there.

Beth Ullman

January 9, 2020

I had the honor of being Rich's wife for 11 of the 13 years we were together. Rich was my best friend, mentor and champion. I got my start singing jazz with him. We toured in Aspen together, wrote music together, and performed in Austin for many years doing club dates, concerts and live performances on KUT Radio. I would not be the person I am today without Rich's influence and deep friendship. My heart is broken right now, but I know that in time, the memories I carry there will live on. Rich, please save me a seat on the bandstand and we'll sing "The Art of Three" together for The Duke! God speed you on your way, precious angel.

Noel Eskew

January 9, 2020

Stride on, dear Rich.
😎🎶🎵🎹😎

Rob Greenfield

January 8, 2020

I started going to see Rich play at the Elephant room in the 90's when I was in college at UT. I loved seeing him dig in and get completely swept up in the moment and his music. Then he'd sing with that almost otherworldly voice that was totally unique and so delicate and sweet. We got to know each other better years later when he started asking me to work as a music engraver/copyist for him. First he'd bring me paper copies, then later it was pictures of his originals he took on his phone. Although I didn't see him too often, we were always in contact working on his tunes. We got close as we pored over his hundreds of compositions. I was often humbled when he'd actually ask me for my thoughts on a chord change or a particular turn of phrase in one of his tunes - like he needed my help! The memory of him that is making me laugh out loud right now is how at the end of each phone call we'd have discussing his tunes, he'd say, or almost shout "SWINGIN!"
Keep swingin' Rich!

Lisa Judge

January 8, 2020

I am deeply saddened by Rich’s passing. We were friends in junior high school in Champaign, IL., and then, forty years later, met up again at St. David’s Episcopal Church. He was a kind, sensitive, smart, and gentle man, a rare soul. His time on this earth has passed too quickly, but his loving and creative spirit will reverberate among us for many years. I send heartfelt condolences to his immediate family and closest friends, knowing that this sudden and unexpected loss must feel overwhelming. I am out of town until Sunday so I will very much miss attending his memorial celebration.

Larry Gorman

January 8, 2020

Heartbreaking news...
Faye and I met Rich right after moving to Austin in 1981. We started hanging out at Piggys on Congress to watch him play with an array of outstanding musicians. Down through the decades Rich and I took many late night walks discussing the width and breadth of this marvelous Creation we found ourselves in. If we passed a convenience store he would invariably get sweet rolls, donuts, Little Debbies (Im talking all at once) and proceed to feed them into that Rich Harney dynamo. He was funny. He was compassionate. He was so talented. His passing leaves a big hole in my world. See ya on the Flipside my friend.

Susanna Sharpe

January 8, 2020

My deep condolences to Maria and to others who love Rich so much. I can't remember when I first met Rich, but our paths crossed many times over the last 27 years or more. He was always kind, always made time for a real conversation, more than just a hello. A beautiful musician, known and revered for his piano playing, he had a singing voice that made people perk up their ears and listen. The first time I heard him sing at a gig, I looked toward the stage wondering where that voice was coming from. Likely I'm not the only one. I have been so moved to read the testimonies of the many musicians who saw him as a friend, a mentor, as family. He was all these things because of his generous heart. This is a terrible loss.

Chris Martin

January 8, 2020

Rich asked me to “split” a gig with him at Tortuga on Anderson Lane. I think he wanted to keep his gig there and also take another gig somewhere else, so I played a couple of nights a week and he did the rest. He would drop in just to listen and I was horribly intimidated, although he was always so gracious and complimentary. His left hand....oh my gosh. What came as such a surprise to me was his incredible singing voice. Chet Baker had nothing on Rich. I wish I could go hear him sing tonight. The angels welcome you home, Richie. They’ve been needing that left hand.

JJ Johnson

January 7, 2020

I will always remember Rich in the same way that most of us , who were fortunate enough to play with him and more importantly , get to engage with his beautiful and tremendously sweet spirit !
He was always so inviting, gracious and encouraging . I’ve had some of my most memorable experiences here in Austin , being on the bandstand with him and his smiling face , looking over with approval and being enraptured by his beautiful feel and choices . Thank you Rich and the universe for allowing us to connect . Love You, J

FROM THE FAMILY
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