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Father and son Dick and Mike Harrison have worked the waters of Ocean View their entire lives. Both wrestled at Granby for another local legend Billy Martin.
“The Wanderer Two” was among the last boats built for the Harrison’s fishing fleet.
Harrison Fishing Pier—courtesy of the Harrison family): An Ocean View icon, the Harrison Fishing Pier opened in 1936)
(Harry Harrison—courtesy of the Harrison family): Dick’s father Harry Harrison built the Harrison Fishing Pier in 1936.

Dick Harrison Is Still An Ocean View Legend

By Gary Ruegsegger
Downtowner Senior Editor

Dick Harrison is more than an Ocean View legend—he’s 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 Harrison’s 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 wouldn’t 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 father’s 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 them.

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 Harrison’s 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.

Harrison’s 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.

“He’s a great guy. He’s like Superman,” said Merrill, “I love talking to him.”

Merrill’s 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 Dick’s wisdom. Donald is quite a wood carver himself.

Don’s mother Laura Lyons was a long time member of Dick’s church, the Church of the Advent. Don’s 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 Grin’s 90th birthday party.

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 father’s production. However, both were named outstanding athlete for their Granby graduating classes. Pat’s younger brother Buddy was voted Best Looking in his 1948 Granby yearbook, but that’s another story.

Pat played with Barney and Dick on the first of Granby’s 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 few.

Pat and Dick’s 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 Martin’s 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 he’s a competitive sort, the next year Dick did 1000 sit-ups.

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. Dick’s son Mike wrestled for Billy Martin’s 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 Martin’s many state championship teams at Granby.

After 85 years, the Harrisons are selling off their fishing fleet. If you’re interested in buying a piece of local history, you can contact Dick’s son Mike Harrison at mikesonh@verizon.net.

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