Obituary of Merry Harris
Merry A. Harris passed away peacefully in the presence of her family on January 19, 2018. Merry was a devoted wife and best friend to her husband of 36 years, John Perticone, and a loving mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother. She was a progressive, public-spirited individual who was a passionate force in the community over several decades. In her professional life following her graduation from SUNY Albany, she demonstrated the tireless work ethic instilled in her by parents Neal and Ruth, beginning first at the American Red Cross in Binghamton as an advocate for veterans. She also became adept at public relations while providing disaster relief for hurricanes and floods across the country. While her children were in school, Merry worked part-time in a number of leadership positions including Executive Director of the Discovery Center and Executive Assistant to her friend and County Executive Tim Grippen, where she initiated Partnership 2000 and the Council on Governments, providing the framework for shared municipal services. Her work was recognized when she was elected to the Broome County Legislature. She then left the public sector at the behest of her brother Kent to help him grow a fledgling contract manufacturing firm as the Human Resource Director and coordinator for the company's successful application for ISO certification. The company grew from a handful of people to 150 employees. Her desire to serve the public did not wane, and in 2007 she joined the Ryan administration as the City of Binghamton Economic Development Director. While holding that position over his two terms in office, she was a moving force in the renaissance of Downtown Binghamton, using her charm and wit to coax and prod developers, not-for-profit agencies, and volunteers for the public good. Her achievements are visible throughout the City, from the vacant office buildings that were filled, to the community gardens that have taken root. She was a fabulous and inspiring mentor of the young people she hired and the student interns she supervised. Along the trajectory of her career she held numerous positions on local boards. She was the recipient of many awards, including the Phoenix Award for Community Service, Women of Achievement Award, Master Gardener, and in 2013, "Merry Harris Day" was celebrated in Binghamton. She rejoiced in planning family gatherings, displaying matchless wit and insight while encouraging informed social and political discussions. Her artistic talents were evident in her flower gardening, painting, photography, and indeed in every facet of her life. She was capable of expressing boundless love and genuine interest in all those she encountered. The loss to her family is incalculable. Merry is pre-deceased by her parents, Neal and Ruth Harris, and her brother Keith Harris. She is survived by her husband John Perticone, her son Christian Perticone and daughter-in-law Alex Rivera, her two grandchildren Clara and Julia, her daughter Kathryn Basques and son-in-law Dr. Bryce Basques, her three brothers Dwight, Doug, and Kent Harris, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and close friends.
All are welcome to join us in celebrating Merry's life in a brief ceremony followed by a reception on January 27, 2018 from 12-2 PM at Remlik's Grille and Oyster Bar, 31 Lewis St. Binghamton, NY 13901. In lieu of flowers, donations to VINES Binghamton would be appreciated – online (https://vinesgardens.org) or P.O. Box 3104 Binghamton, NY 13902. We extend a special thank you to the nursing staff at Wilson CVICU and ICU for their untiring support and care to Merry and her family.