A longtime Miamisburg businessman, activist and civic supporter is being remembered as “a people person” who dedicated himself to making the city a better place to live.
Joe Harrison, died Sept. 23, at 79. Longtime former Miamisburg Mayor Dick Church said Harrison, who purchased and refurbished numerous commercial properties, was instrumental in revitalizing downtown Miamisburg.
“He worked with the city to make it happen,” Church said. “He played a big part in why our downtown is so vibrant today.”
Harrison was born April 6, 1942, in Waterloo, Iowa, to Paul and Helen Harrison. After moving to Superior, Wisconsin, his family settled in Duluth, Minnesota. Harrison joined the army at 17 and, after completing his tour of duty, he traveled to California, where he met Rita Judd. The two married in 1963.
Harrison worked as locksmith and several other positions at Miamisburg’s Mound Laboratories for a decade before becoming an entrepreneur via a successful investment in ice cream trucks. His business interests eventually expanded to restaurant supply and distribution when he founded Alcor Supply Company in 1970.
Church said that when he was mayor, he always credited Harrison and Ron Holp of Ron’s Pizza for being “the nucleus for what’s going on” in downtown Miamisburg and for being “cheerleaders” for its development.
“For not being a native-born Miamisburg resident, when he moved into the community, that was one of the best things that ever happened to Miamisburg,” Church said. “He really got involved, especially with the downtown area.”
Doug Sorrell, who serves on the Historic Plaza Theatre’s emeritus board of directors, said Harrison purchased the building as part of his efforts to help Miamisburg revitalize its downtown.
“Joe went quietly went about doing things as a private citizen with his own money that has contributed greatly to the success our downtown now enjoys,” Sorrell said. “I will miss his easy smile, agreeable demeanor and constant drive to improve our community.”
Harrison’s active interest in the community also included a compassionate and generous side, including donations to organizations and individuals, including the homeless, children and veterans, as well as assisting those who were simply down on their luck.
“He helped a lot of his renters at times when they were having a hard time making payments,” Church said. “He worked with them. He was a people person.”
Harrison was predeceased by his parents, and by two of his siblings, Robert and Nancy. He is survived by his wife, Rita, and three daughters: Kari, Kelly and Kristina, as well as by three grandchildren two great-grandchildren and by his brother Jim.
The family is scheduled to receive friends from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, at Gebhart-Schmidt-Parramore Funeral Home, 508 E. Linden Ave., Miamisburg. A memorial service, followed by light refreshments, is slated for 1 to 4 p.m. Monday at The Plaza Theatre, 33. S. Main St., Miamisburg.