William R. Harris Dies at 79; Hoped to Curb Risks of Nuclear War


This obituary is a component of a collection about individuals who have died within the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

For practically 4 a long time, William R. Harris devoted his profession to safeguarding his fellow residents.

As a world lawyer and a sought-after advisor, he drafted treaties to forestall the proliferation of nuclear weapons and scale back the danger of unintended conflict. He modeled a framework for the federal government to proceed functioning throughout a nationwide disaster. He helped prolong Daylight Saving Time to preserve gasoline and centered officers on defending {the electrical} grid from digital sabotage.

He practiced what he preached, too, ensuring to get his first vaccination for the coronavirus in early February, as quickly as he was eligible and the vaccine was out there. He accomplished the routine by the top of the month.

In late March, although, his household mentioned, he acquired a jarring analysis: Covid-19. Mr. Harris additionally had persistent lymphocytic leukemia, and relations mentioned that a couple of weeks after studying that he had Covid, he learn an article in a scientific journal suggesting that the vaccine won’t be totally efficient for individuals with that sort of leukemia.

Per week later, on April 21, he died in a hospital in Burlington, Mass. He was 79. His spouse, Elizabeth, mentioned the trigger was Covid.

Leukemia and different sicknesses, in addition to some therapies, can compromise the immune system and stop it from correctly responding to vaccines, leaving individuals nonetheless susceptible to an infection.

“They’ll be walking around outside thinking they’re protected — but maybe they’re not,” Dr. Lee Greenberger, chief scientific officer of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, informed The New York Times final month.

No vaccine is 100 p.c efficient, and a few so-called breakthrough infections might be anticipated, even in wholesome individuals who have been totally vaccinated. But these circumstances are uncommon. As of April 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 9,245 breakthrough cases, out of 95 million totally vaccinated Americans; 132 individuals died.

In a eulogy on Facebook, Mr. Harris’s daughter Darcy R. Harris described him this fashion: “As an international lawyer and policy wonk, his work spanned arms control treaties and verification, energy policy, space law. He was a consummate researcher, an early adopter, an innovator. On top of that, he was always working for free and helping others out.”

Mr. Harris additionally left a legacy of group service. As a mother or father, he was dedicated to integrating colleges. He coached soccer. In Newburyport, Mass., the place he and his spouse had lived since 2003, he championed preservation of the historic waterfront and making it accessible to the general public.

He spent half of his profession, from 1972 to 1991, as an analyst at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, Calif. He additionally labored as a advisor to businesses just like the National Security Council and the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and to congressional committees.

During the Arab oil embargo, he urged each year-round Daylight Time, which was imposed briefly in 1974, and a 55-mile-an-hour pace restrict to save gasoline. To promote the use of photo voltaic vitality, he supported laws, which handed in some states, to shield a property proprietor’s entry to daylight.

He handled bettering the “hotline” communications hyperlink between the White House and the Kremlin and setting authorized boundaries for the use of outer area. He was additionally the vice chairman of the InfraGard National Disaster Resilience Council, a collaboration between the F.B.I. and the personal sector to shield important companies.

William Robert Horwitz (he modified his surname as a teen) was born on July 30, 1941, in Manhattan to Dr. William A. Horwitz and Dr. Henriette Klein, each of whom have been professors of medical psychiatry at Columbia University.

He attended the Dalton School in Manhattan and, after graduating from the Choate School, now Choate Rosemary Hall, in Wallingford, Conn., earned a bachelor’s diploma in historical past from Harvard College in 1962 and a legislation diploma from Harvard Law School in 1966.

In 1968, he married Elizabeth Jones. Along together with his spouse and their daughter Darcy, he’s survived by one other daughter, Rebecca Harris Deane; a son, William Proctor Harris; 4 grandchildren; and his sister, Susan Harris Molnar.



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