Deadliest_Catch_Phil_Harris.jpgIt is with sorrow that I heard tonight of the death of Capt. Phil Harris, 53, of the F/V Cornelia Marie, one of the featured crab fisherman in Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” who suffered a stroke at the end of January (click here for details from an earlier blog post).

His sons issued a statement:

Sent on behalf of Jake and Josh Harris:

It is with great sadness that we say
goodbye to our dad – Captain Phil Harris.  Dad has always been a fighter and
continued to be until the end. For us and the crew, he was someone who never
backed down.  We will remember and celebrate that strength.  Thanks to everyone
for their thoughts and prayers.

As did Discovery Channel:

Discovery mourns the loss of dear friend and
colleague Captain Phil Harris.  He was more than someone on our television
screen.  Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him.  We
will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart.
 We share our tremendous sadness over this loss with the millions of viewers who
followed Phil’s every move.  We send our thoughts and prayers to Phil’s sons
Josh and Jake and the Cornelia Marie crew.

I was lucky enough to dine twice with Phil Harris, once with some of the other crab captains, and the second time with his sons.

At the first dinner, held at a swanky restaurant in Marina del Rey, the waiter was beside himself with excitement to have met Capt. Phil of the Cornelia Marie. He asked for and received an autograph, which he was eager to take home and show to his brother. At such an eatery, I suspect that waiter saw lots of celebrities, but I can’t imagine that he could be any more excited than he was to meet the crusty fisherman (who ate steak, by the way).

The second time was a lunch at a hotel in Beverly Hills, on the day of the Discovery Channel upfront presentation to advertisers. After surviving a close call with a blood clot, Phil was downing sliders and enjoying life with his sons at his side.

I cherish my memories of Phil, who was as irascible and boisterous as you might expect from watching the show, but also funny and kind-hearted.

I’ll let you know if I hear of any special programming tributes.

Fair winds and calm seas to you, Capt. Phil.

Fisherman’s Prayer

God grant that I may live to fish,
until my dying day,
And when it comes to my last cast,
I then most humbly pray,
When in the Lord’s safe landing net,
I’m peacefully asleep,
That in his mercy I be judged,
As big enough to keep.

Author Unknown

UPDATE: Discovery Channel and “Deadliest Catch” producer Thom Beers are discussing plans for a special to pay tribute to Harris, who will be featured in season six of the show, set to premiere in April. Also to be decided is the future of Harris’ vessel, the Cornelia Marie and its crew. Click here for details.

Posted by:Kate O'Hare