Photo: Bill Harris

by Down to Earth

This month we mourn the Aug. 26th sudden and unexpected passing of Dr. William “Bill” Harris, 84, a stalwart supporter of the vegetarian movement in Hawaii—having been one of the original founders of the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii (VSH) in 1990, and serving on its board until his passing away.  Dr. Harris became a vegetarian in 1950 and a vegan in 1964. 

“As an advisory board member of VSH, I appreciated Bill’s commitment to veganism for its health, environmental, ethical, and moral benefits,” said Mark Fergusson, Down to Earth CEO.   “Bill was deeply committed to promoting a vegan diet, and to ensuring the long term success of VSH as a means to promulgate the vegan and vegetarian message.

Lorraine Sakaguchi, VSH President, explains that Dr. Harris gave many talks for VSH, both at the monthly lectures, and as a guest speaker at hospitals and community groups. He was active in helping to shape vegetarian friendly legislation for the state of Hawaii, and regularly testified on bills concerning animal rights, the proposed slaughterhouse, and plant-based choices in schoolchildren's lunches.   He was VSH's secretary, as well as its lifelong videographer and video production coordinator.

Before his retirement, Dr. Harris was an emergency physician and director of the Kaiser Permanente Vegetarian Lifestyle Clinic in Honolulu.  He received his medical degree from the University of California in San Francisco in 1963 and wrote the book, “The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism.”  He was incredibly physically active, being a trampoline champion and a skydiver with more than 1,300 parachute jumps.  He recently became fascinated with the sport of paragliding and was working toward his P-2 paragliding rating, having paraglided on the mainland and in Hawaii.

“He was always active,” says Lorraine.  “Just the week before, he happily described to me the glorious experience of his three recent paragliding flights at Makapuu with the natural beauty of Hawaii around and below him.  We’re going to miss him on the VSH board, but more importantly, we’re going to miss him as a friend.”

Reflecting on Dr. William Harris’s accomplishments, Mark said “We deeply appreciate and will always honor and remember Bill’s contributions to the vegan and vegetarian movement in Hawaii.

In keeping with Bill’s wishes, there will be no services.