Mary Jo Harris

August 15, 1934November 27, 2018

Mary Jo (Bourke) Harris died peacefully at home November 27, 2018 after a valiant four-year fight against cancer. Known to many as “Jo,” she loved travel, music, her grandkids, being active, spending time with friends, reading, and her family beach house on Hood Canal. In earlier years, she was an avid snow skier, tennis player, water skier, and swimmer. Jo and her husband enjoyed attending pre-season “away” football games with WSU friends, hosting parties in their Vancouver home and at Hood Canal, playing cards with friends, and traveling around the United States and Europe. Mary Jo was passionate about the Arts, and was actively involved in the Friends of the Vancouver Symphony and Portland Symphony Auxiliary for dozens of years. Trained in classical piano herself, and a brilliant pianist, Jo helped organize fund-raising and many special events in support of the musical Arts. A Vancouver resident since 1961, Mary Jo was an active community volunteer – including supporting the Children’s Orthopedic Society, helping the city organize the Chkalov anniversary celebration, and raising her hand when needed with many other Clark County organizations. For more than 30 years Mary Jo was an active parishioner at St. Joseph’s Church. Born in Seattle, Washington August 15, 1934, Mary Jo lived in Bremerton until she was 10 years old. Her family then lived in the Seattle Capital Hill neighborhood, and she graduated from Holy Names Academy in 1951. Mary Jo graduated in 1955 from Marylhurst College in Lake Oswego, Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. Fluent in French, Mary Jo traveled to France on a coveted Fulbright Scholarship, where she attended the Sorbonne in Paris and L’Universite de Strasbourg. Her Master’s thesis was written on the European Coal and Steel Community, an early predecessor to the European Union. Returning to the States in 1956, Mary Jo worked in Seattle, moving to Vancouver when she was married. She was a part-time French instructor at Clark College but devoted most of her adult life to raising three children, volunteer work, an active lifestyle, and summers at the beach house. An animal lover, Mary Jo was known to take in stray kittens, cats and even a Doberman pinscher. She was the type of personality that could talk with anyone (and she usually did) and her organizational and typing skills were a marvel before computers came on the scene. She is preceded in death by her mother, Mary Elizabeth (Sager) Bourke, her father, Lionel Joseph Bourke, her step-mother Carol (Hunt) Bourke, and her brother Lionel Bourke. She is survived by her husband of 57 years, Robert L. Harris, and her children Marie Sullivan and son-in-law Terry Sullivan (Olympia), Rob Harris and daughter-in-law Eileen Harris (North Bend), and Joanna Butcher and son-in-law Mark Butcher (San Jose). She is also survived by her grandchildren Samantha Sullivan, Joseph Harris, Nathan Harris, and Addison Butcher, her nephew Andy Gregg, and her step-grandchildren Amber Bemis and Sean Sullivan. The family would like to thank Jo’s wonderful caregivers Melissa, Elisa and Barb and the team at Community Home Health and Hospice for their exceptional service. In lieu of flowers, the family would suggest memorial donations in Jo’s name to the Vancouver Symphony or to Holy Names Academy in Seattle. A celebration of life “open house” will be held Sunday, December 30, 2018, from 1-4 PM at the Marshall House. Please sign her guest book.


  • Celebration of Life Sunday, December 30, 2018

Mary Jo Harris

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Rosemary Perisich,, SNJM

January 16, 2019

May Christ's very special peace continue to be all yours as a sharing in the Eternal Peace of dear Mary Jo. Please be assured that she and all the family remain in the prayers of our Holy Names Academy community.
It is a blessing and a privilege to send home to our God in Heaven such a faith-filled, strong in family unity and active charity Alum of the Class of 1951.
May God's infinite love bring all of you, and her caring family and many friends, genuine comfort and strength in the days ahead.
Thank you for the generosity of remembering HNA and our SNJM Sisters!
God bless each and all of you!
Lovingly in Jesus and Mary,
Sister Rosemary Perisich, SNJM and all the community at Holy Names Aacdemy

Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary

January 16, 2019

On behalf of our Sisters who taught Mary Jo at Holy Names Academy, Seattle, Washington and Marylhurst College, Lake Oswego, Oregon, we offer our prayerful sympathy to all of Mary Jo's family and friends. Her life has changed, not ended. May she be full of peace and joy - so much so, that her nearness brings those gifts to each of you.

Blankenburg Family

December 16, 2018

Our deepest condolences to the family. What a wonderful woman who raised an incredible family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time.

Cindy "Bartu" Turnure

December 13, 2018

To the entire Harris family which I consider my family as well, my heart is with you. Jo was such an elegant loving mother and friend that took interest in my hopes and dreams while I was growing up.
She created the magical vacation known as "Bartu weekend" up at Hoods Canal by sharing her family's beach house with us. This special tradition happened every summer for most of my life. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was learning to waterski in exceptionally cold water, digging clams at low tide, cooking oysters on the beach, dancing on the new back deck, and the infamous hat night that Jo started by finding old hats in the closet. We spent hours together sharing our lives while growing up together. She took interest in everyone of us and made us all feel special. I love Jo and will miss her so very much. I want to thank her for all the wonderful times and my favorite childhood memories.

Suzan Clark

December 11, 2018

So sorry for your loss of this kind woman! I really appreciated her kind words and support when I became a judge. My thoughts are with Judge Harris & family

Gayle Beacock

December 9, 2018

To the Harris Family,
We have a long history together. Our parents go way back, and Marie and I are in the same class. Your mother was a beautiful lady who was always so sweet and excited to see me when we would see each other around town. You see we have a special bond!
In 1981 I was competing for Miss Clark County! In those days, we had host families where we stayed throughout the 4 days of competition. Your family was mine! Marie, you were away at college, so your mom and sister spoiled me rotten! Pretty sure I was in your room!!
They supported me and made sure I had everything I needed. I still have a little dried flower arrangement that they brought me from that cute little flower shop in your neighborhood. ( Old Tymers?)
It is a cherished time for me and I will never forget how kind she was to me. We always talked about it when we saw each other.
Much love to you and your family.

Terri Dow

December 9, 2018

We are very sorry for your loss. Jo holds a special place in my heart. She always greeted me warmly and went out of her way to be friendly & complimentary. She generously hosted a bridal shower for us.

She and my mother in law were in several activity groups together: snow skiing, Children’s Orthopedic Guild, cards; grilling oysters with neighbors, and loved watching & attending pro sports games together.

Joanna Butcher

December 8, 2018