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LIRR ticket clerk Michael Harmon dies at 91

An undated, handout photograph of Michael Harmon.

An undated, handout photograph of Michael Harmon. Credit: Jacqueline Connor

For 33 years, Michael Harmon quietly worked as a ticket clerk for the Long Island Rail Road. The Holbrook man never missed a shift, said his widow, Lois Harmon.

Harmon, who married Lois in 1943, died of age-related medical problems at Stony Brook University Hospital. He was 91.

"It was an . . . ordinary life," said Lois, 91, of Holbrook. "But it was a full life."

When Lois saw her future husband for the first time on a Sunday afternoon in June 1942, she regretted that she was sick and had to cancel her blind date at the last minute. She turned the tall stranger away.

"I was so impressed by him," she said. "He was handsome and he knew [New York] City."

Michael Harmon worked at the bar his father opened near Times Square in 1933, just after Prohibition ended.

He survived a Pennsylvania Railroad train crash in 1947 that killed five people. Lois said her husband, who was hospitalized, was on his way to surprise her with an appearance in her home state of Pennsylvania, where she was visiting her parents.

Born in Manhattan to Irish immigrant parents, Harmon was the oldest of five children. He received a Catholic education at Chaminade High School in Mineola and ran track and played basketball while making honor roll every term.

Shortly after graduating from Chaminade in 1938, Harmon began working as an LIRR ticket clerk.

"It was not an easy job, let's put it that way," said James Dermody, a former fellow clerk who later became the railroad's president. "You had to be the first person the customer saw, whether they wanted to thank the railroad or complain."

In 1975, Harmon retired and he and Lois visited Ireland five times in the following years. They shared a house in Holbrook for 50 years.

Though Harmon was a quiet man, he could be inspiring, the family said.

"We always had deep conversations," said 16-year old Brianna Harmon of Patchogue, a great-granddaughter. "He told me to keep my head up."

Harmon is survived by five children: Claude, 67, of Patchogue; James, 63, of Saudi Arabia; Barry, 57, of Patchogue; Michele, 53, of Albany; and Timothy, 51, of San Diego. Two other children, Michael and Richard, died in 1947 and 2005, respectively. Harmon also leaves behind six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A funeral was held Thursday at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Ronkonkoma. Burial followed at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram.

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