Audrie Grady Harrison
1926 - 2010
On a beautiful warm Friday on July 9, 1926 at 8:48 a.m., Audrie Grady Harrison came into this world as the first-born child of H. Grady Harrison and Nelly Evelyn Blade Harrison.
Mr. Harrison was born and raised in Payson. After graduating high school he enlisted in the U.S Navy where he became a motor machinist. Soon, at the height of World War II, Mr. Harrison was assigned to an LCI in the South Pacific headed for Guam and Sipan.
Later Mr. Harrison had a desire to fly, and accomplished this goal while on the G.I Bill.
Over the next two years he spent his time working at the airport in Cottonwood for a man named Guy Turner. While working in Cottonwood, he rebuilt small aircraft and flew charter planes. He flew the day’s film into Phoenix from Monument Valley and other points where movies were being made. He often liked to tell the story of how he was a gandy dancer (railroad handcart operator) in the movie “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.”
For years, in the winter he grew long hair and a beard; the people of the Rim Country knew when spring had come when Mr. Harrison got into his airplane and flew to Phoenix for his spring haircut.
Coming back to Payson, Mr. Harrison ran the Chevron gas station at the corner of Main and McLane. Mr. Harrison was Payson’s first fire chief and when a fire broke out three shots were fired from a gun to alert the volunteer firefighters.
On Oct. 4, 1955 he married Judith A. Skabelund and four sons were born over the next eight years.
In 1967, Mr. Harrison started Harrison Electric, having done electric work with his father who had Payson’s first light and power company for years. The wiring of a house was the “old knob and tube” method.
For 22 years Mr. Harrison served the Town of Payson, first on the airport board then the planning and zoning commission.
He joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1956 and in 1971 was called to serve as bishop of the Payson Ward. He played a large role in getting the land and overseeing the building of the first three phases of the now existing building. After being released as bishop he served eight years on the High Counsel of the Camp Verde Stake.
Mr. Harrison had a great love of the outdoors, hunting and fishing; he especially loved deep-sea fishing. Up until the very end he had the dream of “one more fishing trip.” He was active in the Bird Busters Trap and Skeet Club.
He loved the American Indian culture. Taking classes through the college he learned the technique of ancient pottery making. He later taught classes with elderhostel teaching older people the art as well.
He passed away Oct. 30, 2010 in Payson, the town that he loved so much.
He was preceded in death by his parents and younger brother, William L. Harrison.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Judith; and four sons, Roger (Ennie) of Riverdale Calif., Ted (Nancy) of Grapevine, Texas, Richard (Wendy) of North Garden, Va. and Greg (Diana) of Chula Vista, Calif., along with 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 6 at the Payson L.D.S. Stake Building, 913 S. Ponderosa.