Kenneth Harrison, a Bellport native who became economist to the New York State legislature and then a college professor and elected official in New Jersey, died March 21. He was 64 and suffered from early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
Harrison devoted his life to teaching and labor union causes, said his widow, Brigid Callahan Harrison.
"He was particularly interested in mentoring first-generation college students, of which he was one," she said. "He saw education as a great leveling device, particularly for minority students."
Born Oct. 15, 1945, Harrison graduated from Bellport High School and received a bachelor's degree from SUNY Plattsburgh and a master's degree and doctorate from University at Albany.
After working in Albany for the state legislature, Harrison moved to New Jersey in the 1970s to become an economics professor at Richard Stockton College, then called Stockton State College. He became president of the Stockton Federation of Teachers and worked to further union causes.
He met his wife when she took his macroeconomics class. They married in 1989 and have three children. "Most of his activities centered upon ensuring that people had some form of economic equality," said Brigid Callahan Harrison, a professor at Montclair State University.
Kenneth Harrison was twice elected to the Egg Harbor City Council and in 1991 ran for Atlantic County executive, losing to a Republican in the general election.
Harrison is survived by his wife; children Alexandra, Caroline and John, all of Galloway Township, N.J.; his mother, Marian, of Bellport; his brothers Lee and Donald, both of Bellport, and Sandy, of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and his sister, Betsi Lenhard, of Medford. He was predeceased by his father, Frank, and his first wife, Lyn Czaplicki.
A funeral Mass and burial were held last week.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Richard Stockton College Foundation, P.O. Box 195, Pomona, N.J. 08240.