James Reece Harrill

Sept. 29, 1938 - March 3, 2014

James Reece Harrill, beloved husband, brother, father and grandfather, ended his life’s journey on March 3 after a long illness. He was 75. Jim was born on Sept. 29, 1938, in Washington, D.C., to Eugene Reece and Dorothy Sampson Harrill. He grew up just outside the nation’s capital in Arlington, Virginia. He attended Washington Lee High School, where he competed in track and field. During his senior year, he broke the state record for the high jump during the Northern Virginia Track and Field Championships, then tied for first place in the event a week later at the Virginia State Championships. He was accepted at Johns Hopkins University, and the summer before embarking on his college career he took a summer job with the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Spokane, Wash., where he worked first in the Spokane office with the drafting section, then spent the rest of the summer in the mountains south of Salmon, Idaho, helping to survey an iron ore prospect. At Johns Hopkins, Jim majored in geology. He worked for the Bureau of Mines two additional summers. He graduated in June 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology and was accepted to graduate school at the University of Utah. The summer before moving to Utah Jim worked at Mt. Rainier National Park for a PhD candidate who was doing his dissertation in the Pinnacle Peak area of the park. As a graduate student in Salt Lake City, Jim met Patsy Priscilla Seely and the two were married on Sept. 1, 1961, in Ely, Nev. He graduated from the University of Utah with a Master of Science in geology in 1962. He served in the Army for two years, receiving an honorable discharge as a 1st Lieutenant in 1964. Jim was offered and took a job with the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey in Carson City, Nev. His expertise in groundwater grew; by the time he retired in 1994, he had contributed to numerous studies and authored or co-authored more than 50 technical articles pertaining to the hydrology of the Great Basin. He worked as a consultant for about 15 years - his projects included co-authoring a detailed evaluation of the water resources in Death Valley National Park and participating in a study of Devil’s Hole that explained water-level declines that began in 1988. Colleagues continued to draw upon his expertise, calling with questions just a few days before his death. His passions included gardening, woodcarving and spending time with his family. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Patsy S. Harrill; one sister, Nancy Bowen; two sons, Rob Harrill and Scott Harrill; three daughters-in-law, Betty Harrill, Barbara Harrill and Melanie Bayliss; eight grandchildren, Monique Harrill, Daniel Harrill, Jessica Wilson, Samuel Harrill, Rachel Nissley, Megan Harrill, Devin Harrill, and Hannah Harrill; three step-grandchildren, Brittany Bayliss, Brandon Bayliss and Bradley Bayliss; one great-grandson, Reece Harrill; one niece, Betsy Bowen, and numerous other relatives. He was preceded in death by his son, George Reece Harrill, and his nephew, John Bowen.

A service to celebrate Jim’s life is scheduled for Saturday, March 15, beginning at 1 p.m. at FitzHenry’s Funeral Home, 3945 Fairview Drive in Carson City, Nevada.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Jim’s name to St. Jude Children’s Research

Center, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, or online at www.stjude.org.


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