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.


30 December

Celebration of Life

1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Marhsall House

Open House

1301 Officers Row
Vancouver, Washington


Mary Jo Harris

have a memory or condolence to add?

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