Print Friendly, PDF & Email

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, NY – St. Francis College Brooklyn, the Mid-Atlantic Water Polo Conference (MAWPC), the Northeast Water Polo Conference (NWPC) and the Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) mourn the loss of Charles Harris ’63. Harris was a men’s water polo student-athlete at St. Francis College Brooklyn from 1959-63 and was enshrined into the Terriers’ Athletics Hall of Fame in 1969. In addition to playing at St. Francis, he played club water polo at New York Athletic Club (NYAC), later coached at NYAC and was the brother of Fordham University head coach Bill Harris.

Harris was the captain of the Terriers’ men’s water polo team in 1962 and 1963. Over his career at St. Francis, he helped guide the Terriers to three Eastern Championships in 1961, 1962, and 1963. Following his playing days at St. Francis, he was a member of the US Olympic Trials Team in 1964 and 1968.

He garnered a number of awards throughout his career. Harris claimed the MVP Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Senior Nationals – Curren Award in 1965 and 1975. He took home the AAU Metropolitan Association Outstanding Athlete award in 1967 and Most Valuable Player of the North American Cup in 1968. Harris was an AAU All-America Team selection (1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1978) and earned the Ameno Award for the top NYAC Water Polo Player/Contributor in 1967.

As a coach, he led NYAC to the AAU Senior National Championship and North American Cup Championship in 1977. He was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1996 for his contributions to the sport as a player and coach.

Charles married his wife Dorianne in 1964 and had three sons, Christian, Grant and Brian.

Obituary: Charlie Harris, eight-time National Water Polo Champion and 1996 inductee into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame, passed away on June  He was 78 and is survived by his wife of 56 years, Dorianne Cosentine Harris, and their sons Christian, of Sarasota, Fl; Grant, of Albuquerque, NM; and Brian of Denver, CO; and five grandchildren, as well as his brother, Bill and his wife Dorothy, of Rye, NY and sister, Maryanne Muratore and husband Charles, of Pawley’s Island, SC.

Born on June 17, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York, son of the late Urton L. Harris and Edith Bible Harris, Charlie attended Our Lady of Good Counsel grammar school and then St. Francis Prep.  At the Prep he swam for legendary Coach Tom Booras and was a member of the 1959 National Catholic High School Championship team.

He attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn and served as Class President from 1959-1963.  It was at St. Francis that he found his sport, and he captained the Terriers to the NCAA Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Water Polo Championship in 1961, ’62, and ’63. During this time he assisted Coach Harry Benvenuto who was starting a water polo team at Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn. The Loughlin team became a feeder for the NY Athletic Club Water Polo Team in future years.

Following college, as Charlie began his career as a math teacher, he was invited to join the celebrated water polo team at the New York Athletic Club, where he flourished.  He quickly moved into the starting lineup, and in 1967 he was named the prestigious AAU’s Metropolitan Association’s Outstanding Athlete, the same year he was named the recipient of the Ameno Award for the top NYAC Water Polo Player.  Charlie’s honors were numerous: Olympic Trials in 1964 and 1968, representing the NYAC in eight National Championships, Curran Award recipient as MVP at the 1965 and 1975 National Championships. The list continues with the MVP award at the North American Cup in 1968, along with eight North American Cup Championships, competing against international teams.

Along with his brother Bill, also a graduate of St. Francis College, the pair played together for over 14 years.  Both left-handed, the Harris brothers left indelible impressions on their opponents and teammates — in the pool and far beyond.

Charlie Harris’ success in the pool was matched by his sense of professional purpose and achievement throughout several years of teaching and then as a Systems Engineer at IBM.  He was every bit as focused and successful as an executive over the course of his 23 years at IBM, where he established a distinguished record of achievement.  Charlie Harris was a member of the One Hundred Percent Club a dozen times and a member of the Golden Circle five times, IBM’s highest sales award.  He retired from IBM and moved to Denver, where he became a principal with a GIS consulting firm. After 10 years out West, his business career ended at Auto Desk as a Vice President of its GIS Group in Palo Alto.

He and his wife, Dorianne, retired to Pawley’s Island, South Carolina, where Charlie led the local homeowner’s association and broadened his local and national charitable work on behalf of such organizations as Swim Across America.

With his marketing background, Charlie raised tens of thousands of dollars for Swim Across America — thanks to his commitment to the cause, his energy, and the generous support of his neighbors in Pawleys Island, SC.  For many years Charlie participated in the three-mile swim across the Long Island Sound, a one day event that has a record of raising over one million dollars for cancer research and hospice care.  In recent years Charlie held a SAA event in his local pool.

Devoted grandparents, Charlie and Dorianne Harris took great pleasure in visiting their sons, daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren in different parts of the United States: Christian and his wife Tracy and their daughter Eva; Grant and his wife, Wendy, and their children Quincy and Georgia; Brian and Jamie and their children Hudson and Chase.

Celebrated for his generous spirit, personal warmth, and welcoming manner, Charlie Harris’ life was distinguished by great achievements and resolutely encouraging others with an unwavering sense of possibility and optimism.  Never naive, Charlie’s kindness, his welcoming and engaging smile, and personal warmth left an indelible impression on all those who the privilege and pleasure of knowing him.

Given the present circumstances of Covid-19, a memorial service will be planned for a future date.

Submitted by Harris Family

Collegiate Water Polo Association