Dick Harrison Is Still An Ocean
By Gary Ruegsegger
Downtowner Senior Editor
Dick Harrison is more than
an Ocean View legendhes 100% for real.
I grew up on the waters of Ocean View, but he still
taught me a lot about the area on a morning before
the Fourth of July.
To call Mr. Harrison a legend is an understatement.
The whole Harrison family is legendary. In 1936,
his father Harry R. Harrison built Harrisons
Fishing Pier. Four years earlier, Harry bought a
small fleet of used boats to fish the waters of
the Chesapeake Bay.
That venture led to the building of the fishing
pier mainly as a way to load his passengers so his
workers wouldnt have to row them out to the
fishing boats. For over 50 years, local residents
fished from that pier or the boats.
The Harrison family knows more about fish than Davy
Jones. My favorite fish story includes his fathers
flounder tale. Years ago, Harry Harrison hankered
to catch some flounder using spot for bait. I worked
on a fishing boat through high school and I never
knew that flounder scaled the fish before they ate
Flounder have some special scaling teeth
in the back of their mouths. Harry always scaled
the bait before he used it. On one trip in particular,
he caught 10 flounder weighing a total of over 100
pounds with scaled bait. That's no fish story either.
At 88, Dick Harrison still loves to fish in the
waters of Ocean View. Recently he turned a walking
stick for Don Lyons, the middle son of Harrisons
Granby teammate Pat Lyons. Today Harrison also turns
bowls on his wood lathe and still performs much
of the upkeep on the fishing boats himself.
Harrisons son Mike helps with the boats, but
Dick is the number one worker. Just the mention
of his name brings a smile to the lips of Dean Merrill,
the dockmaster at the Willoughby Harbor Marina.
Hes a great guy. Hes like Superman,
said Merrill, I love talking to him.
Merrills not the only one who loves talking
to Harrison. Every Sunday Donald Lyons, a former
basketball coach at Norview, sits down after church
services to listen to Dicks wisdom. Donald
is quite a wood carver himself.
Dons mother Laura Lyons was a long time member
of Dicks church, the Church of the Advent.
Dons father Pat attended Sunday services just
across the street at the Ocean View Golf Course.
According to no one less than another local sports
legend, Barney A. Gill, Pat Lyons was the
greatest all-around athlete to walk the halls of
Granby High School. Barney said that at former
Granby principal Don Grins 90th birthday
Pat did everything for the sports program at Granby
except sweep the locker room. He led the team and
the state in basketball scoring his junior year.
Pat could shoot with either hand.
I started shooting with both hands so I could
score twice as much, Pat once told me with
half a smile.
For the record, Don can shoot with either hand,
but he never duplicated his fathers production.
However, both were named outstanding athlete for
their Granby graduating classes. Pats younger
brother Buddy was voted Best Looking in his 1948
Granby yearbook, but thats another story.
Pat played with Barney and Dick on the first of
Granbys three consecutive state championship
football teams (1944, 1945 and 1946). Others on
those championship teams included future National
League All-Star catcher Hank Foiles, Major League
pitcher Chuck Stobbs, Duke star basketball player
and miler Red Kulpan and 1951 Tennessee National
Football Champion Buddy Lyons, just to mention a
Pat and Dicks big brother Bill left Granby
to serve in World War II. Dick only departed Ocean
View for a Duke Football scholarship. He and brother
Bill were among Billy Martins first wrestlers
at Granby. Back then, wrestling was more of a sports
club than a sport.
Dick credits rowing boats with his incredible conditioning.
He once did 500 sit-ups at school. When his older
brother Billy heard that, he did 501. Not that hes
a competitive sort, the next year Dick did 1000
At least two of his high school teammates (Hank
Foiles and Chuck Stobbs) are in the Virginia Sports
Hall of Fame. Curiously, the name Dick Harrison
is missing from the roles.
After starring in football at Granby and helping
to start the legendary Granby wrestling problem,
Dick played football under Wallace Wade at Duke.
He later gave up football and devoted his full time
to wrestling. Dicks son Mike wrestled for
Billy Martins Blue Comets.
Dick was a physical education and math teacher.
He served as wrestling coach at Norfolk County High
School (now Oscar Smith) and Princess Anne High
School. Keeping wrestling in the family his son
Mike also wrestled on one of Billy Martins
many state championship teams at Granby.
After 85 years, the Harrisons are selling off their
fishing fleet. If youre interested in buying
a piece of local history, you can contact Dicks
son Mike Harrison at email@example.com.