OBITUARY

Helen Josephine O'Malley Harris

September 17, 1936December 24, 2014
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Helen Harris’ RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) International founder dies in her home in Woodland Hills, California after an 8 year battle with breast cancer.

Helen Harris passed away on Christmas Eve evening in her home in Woodland Hills California after an 8 year battle with aggressive metastatic breast cancer.

As the founder and volunteer President of RP International for over forty years, she pioneered and championed many of today's greatest breakthroughs in restoring and preserving our children’s eyesight. Retinal cell transplants , adult stem cell transplantation, groundbreaking treatments, procedures and technologies all aimed at curing RP, Macular Degeneration and related allied diseases which affect millions of Americans. Sadly, one of Helen’s favorite contributions to helping blind and visually impaired fully enjoy the holiday season, The Eyes of Christmas and It’s a Wondeful Life described for the blind aired just a few hours after she had passed away.

NBC’s, “It’s a Wonderful Life” narrated in Descriptive TheatreVisionTM by former President George H.W. Bush, and a second charity production, called “The Eyes of ChristmasTM” a holiday classic and the only television show in the country specifically made accessible with TheatreVisionTM. The host from inception has been Vin Scully, Dodgers hall of fame announcer and Bob Hope in Sight Telethon Co-host. The show is broadcast on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning nationally on ION Media Network and on FOX TV in Los Angeles. The broadcast features Co-host Clive Davis, musical performances and audio holiday description from many top stars ranging from George Clooney to Garth Brooks. Helen created the Vision AwardsTM to bring national attention to pioneering visionaries in medical research, entertainment, the arts, music and technology. All in an attempt to promote and advance the need to cure RP and restore eyesight to 26 million Americans. Before going blind from RP, Helen was an artist and painter, her collection of paintings created while over 99% blind, will be donated to the charity then auctioned, in an attempt to raise $1,000,000+ to endow a permanent medical fund in her name and to guarantee that all future young researchers have a place to turn for funding and that RP and Macular Degeneration patients calling in for free on the 800 Fight RP line continue to receive free counseling, doctor’s assistance and even talking computers. It is Helen’s fondest wish that the volunteer-based effort she started be funded to completion, with experimental work now entering mainstream medicine, she may just have succeeded in doing what every major medical establishment had told her 40 years ago was impossible, restoring sight to the blind! The charity and her family remain committed to finishing what Helen took from just a dream to a potential cure. Funding is desperately needed now to finish this extraordinary miracle of restoring eyesight to our children and loved ones. Please consider donating to RP International the non-profit charity Helen established almost half a century ago by visiting. http://www.RPInternational.org, Calling (800) Fight-RP or mailing a contribution to RP International, Post Office Box 900, Woodland Hills, California 91365. LINK: Eyes of Christmas previous release with photos, video and PDF downloads. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/12/prweb11447794.htm LINK: The Eyes of Christmas Broadcast http://www.eyesofchristmas.org/ About “The Eyes of Christmas” "The Eyes of Christmas" telecast benefits RP International, the nation's leading non-profit fighting Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and other degenerative eye diseases. NBC will air “It’s a Wonderful Life” nationally in TheatreVision™, narrated by former President George H.W. Bush, on December 24th at 8:00 p.m. ET. This year’s finale to “The Eyes of Christmas” will begin at 6:00 a.m. ET on ION Television Christmas morning. More information is available via RP International's web site, http://www.eyesofchristmas.org. The song, “The Eyes of Christmas” can also be purchased by calling RP International at (818) 992-0631. About RP International (RPI) Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) is a degenerative, hereditary eye disease that afflicts tens of millions of people worldwide. When diagnosed with the condition 40 years ago, Helen Harris was a homemaker in Pennsylvania. Once she found out that she had passed on RP to two out of her three sons, she started a mission to save vision by founding RP International (RPI). Since then, Harris’ non-profit organization has led the fight against disabling eye diseases that afflict over 31 million people in America and worldwide. RPI has raised over $5 million to date during the past 40 years of telethons and special events, including its annual Vision Awards fundraiser for medical research for restoring vision. RPI is also behind the first successful retinal transplant that has fully restored vision in blind patients. RPI has also enlisted other donors into contributing more than $300 million directly to medical research for eye health. Whether Retinitis Pigmentosa, Macular Degeneration, Usher's Syndrome, Batten's Disease, or other visual impairments, RPI has helped pierce the darkness through the following initiatives: sponsoring medical research and communication amongst leading researchers; providing human services for blind and sight-impaired children, young adults, and seniors; educating the public, the medical profession, and those suffering from disabling eye diseases; pioneering TheatreVision™, an innovative technical development invented at RPI that permits the blind and sight-impaired to watch movies and television with their sighted family and friends; the annual “Eyes of Christmas” special broadcast, raising awareness and bringing holiday cheer to the blind; as well as the annually televised Vision Awards (http://www.visionawards.org), which honors major luminaries across the fields of entertainment, science, sports and the arts. Harris has partnered with many of the biggest stars and movie studios to produce TheatreVision™ versions of major feature films, including James Cameron, who lent his voice for the audio description of his blockbuster hit, "Titanic."

Contributions to support RPI’s initiatives to save vision can be made via mail to:

RP International, PO BOX 900, Woodland Hills, CA 91367, or online at http://www.rpinternational.org.

For information please contact Parvene Michaels at 818-992-0631, or email info@rpinternational.org.

Services

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Visitation Friday, January 9, 2015
  • Memorial Mass Saturday, January 10, 2015
  • Graveside Service Saturday, January 10, 2015

OTHER SERVICES:

  • Reception
REMEMBERING

Helen Josephine O'Malley Harris

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Fabiola Fragoso

January 26, 2018

Though some time has passed since our beloved friend has departed to be with our Lord , we still remember her amazing strength and her beautiful spirit which reflected in the work she did and all that she accomplished both fighting blindness and in her personal life . I personally am very grateful for the many ways in which she help me , specially during my younger years , Helen was to me like a second mother . I think you Helen from the bottom of myhheart. And strongly believe we'll SEE each other again ...

May 18, 2015

Robert, Thank you for your effort to carry on your mother's work and to keep shining the bright light she made of her life.

It was an honor to work with her, and her program of TheatreVision described films will live forever and grow!
Your mom will live on in the annals of people who made their lives mean something positive.

Dick Guttman

May 18, 2015

So sorry for your loss. Your Mom was a visionary, a friend to many, and will always be remembered for her efforts to find a cure for RP. I just lost my Dad on December 8th and understand your emotions and the overwhelming feeling of loss.

She is now dancing with the Angels and guiding us to continue her great work to help others. My condolences are with you during this difficult time.

Fondly,
David A. Helfant

May 18, 2015

I was so sorry to hear this she was an inspiration and a wonderful woman all my love,
Bruce Hensel, KNBC

May 18, 2015

Mom could see intuitively, in a the real sense, better than anyone I knew with eye sight. She measures up as a saint. I am quite sure, right know, she is working The Lord to cure human blindness on earth.
Dave Kenny

May 18, 2015

My heart goes out to you and your family at the lost of an absolutely amazing woman. I have such deep admiration and respect for your Mom and it is perhaps apropos that the world is a darker place without her sparkle and spirit.
Jonathan Gelfand

Tim Cochran

January 14, 2015

The world has lost an AMAZING Human Being, It's was a honor and privilege to have known her and worked for her but most of all just be around her, I miss the fact I can't just pick up the phone! My heart is empty

January 13, 2015

It is with a very heavy heart I say good-bye to Helen. Helen was always so kind and loving and welcomed me in to her home and her heart. Helen was and still is an inspiration to so many and touched thousands of lives. Helen loved life and lived life to it's fullest. Helen was an amazing, strong loving woman and it showed in everything she did. I've never seen anyone as dedicated to R.P. and work as hard as Helen did to find a cure. To Helen's family, I know that all of you were the force behind Helen's fighting spirit and that she loved you with all her heart. My sincere condolences to the entire Harris Family.

Love you all, Kimberly S. Christian

Robyn Whitney

January 8, 2015

Helen is an inspiration to everyone, with sight and without. She took the life challenge she was given and made it her life's cause. And her commitment to it has made a better for life for all of us. May she enjoy the sights she is now seeing. Robyn Whitney, Los Angeles

Ken Sax

January 8, 2015

There is hardly any words that can express or discribe Helen's kindness, love, and her support to fight blindness. My love goes to you your wonderful family. You brought so much joy, love, creation to so many and touch the universe with your presence. You will truly be missed!