Welcome to the memorial page for

Gregory Anthony Harney

June 6, 1941 ~ August 18, 2017 (age 76)
Obituary Image

Dad was born on June 6, 1941, just a short time before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, (the calm before the storm known as the American entry into WW II). Imagine being born into a world-changing time like this. To follow this theme, Dad had some very difficult moments in his early life, losing his mother to Multiple Sclerosis when he was a freshman in High School (Dad has a sister Cecilia, and a stepbrother Hugh, both of whom were present with us at the end. It is clear Dad is loved very much by family).

Dad attended and graduated from Saint John's Preparatory High School in Shrewsbury Massachusetts. This school is considered one of the top Prep Schools in the country. Many Ivy Leaguers attend this school from the Boston area. Here Dad ran track and was also on the swim team. Dad put himself through High School because Saint John’s was never a public school. At this point in time he was clearly on his own and very hardworking (Dad always was hard-working).

After graduating High School, Dad worked at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester Massachusetts and was trained as a lab technician, a forerunner to Phlebotomist/Emergency Med Tech. It was here where he met our mother Shirley Harney, a nursing student at the time. Here you can imagine Dad chasing Mom between free moments at the hospital.

Of course as history progresses, they Marry after Dad enlists in the US Air Force in 1961. He was stationed in Rantoul Illinois at Chanute Air Force Base. In the beginning, Dad was trained at Lackland Air Force Base and then stationed at Chanute.

He was trained as a Medic and worked as a Lab Tech at Chanute. Here it would seem to me that Dad had the foresight to avoid losing control of his young life before what came next in Viet Nam. I know he mentioned to me that he was sent there for a brief time to work in setting up a MASH unit in a cooperative effort for field forces.

During his time in the Air Force, the first three of his four children were born, John in 1962, Kim in 1963, and Scott in 1965. I remember stories of Tornadoes in the flat corn fields and many visits from Dad’s sister Cecilia and Mom’s parents.

After being honorably discharged in 1968, I remember Dad working as a lab tech at a few hospitals along with working very late hours. Here he began to educate himself in electronics while busting his can to feed all of us. I remember we would watch Star Trek, watch the first Moon Landing, and listen to Dad play the accordion in our pantry.

The basement where we lived in Grafton Massachusetts was filled with many boxes and bags of electronic circuits and lathe-drill tools where Dad would create some interesting gadgets he fabricated from his creative moments. I do remember watching him work down there many times while making sure we were completing our chores.

In 1970, I remember our brother Sean being born and the Red Pontiac Firebird with the White interior in the driveway of our apartment building our grandfather owned and maintained. As you can imagine, we were a very close-knit operation during this time.

Dad used to occupy our minds with stories and games about space ships and ETs. We would sometimes lay on the grass staring up at the sky watching airplane lights while dad would tease us about the aliens in the lights. He would also find weird signals on the radio and tell us that space people were up there. Dad liked his Science Fiction.

As time progressed we moved on to a house in Worcester, where Dad began to transition into his career as a Field Service Engineer for Electronic components in machines and tooling facilities. Here I also remember Dad working many long hours in the beginning. A year or so later during this time, Dad met a Physicist from Wentworth College and they both teamed up on fashioning a space anti-gravity drive.

Dad would spend many hours working in the basement on his lathe machine, crafting the Electro-Magnetic coils into something that would sustain the forces imposed upon it by testing in the Wentworth Physics lab. Dad had a close bond with his friend Jim Vance at this time. Jim was one of the Architects of the re-entry process for the Apollo missions at NASA.

As the late 70’s approached, Dad had landed a pivotal job in his engineering career and we all moved on to Michigan. Here Dad spent a lot of time on the road for various projects with his companies and we would see less of him as a natural side-effect. Dad would still be in good spirits and treat us to some of the things he would discover in his travels.

In the early 80’s I remember moving to a new house on the water in Milford Michigan, this was a successful career period for Dad. He would work on various projects on the weekends when he was home and included all of us in Philosophical dialogue as he worked on the Deck (or something in the basement of course). I also remember him and Mom always being involved with the neighbors and the church community.

As the 80’s progressed into the 90’s Dad and Mom moved onto New York State as his career would follow the ebb and flow of the economy during these years. I remember his time at XEROX. Here he was known as Yoda with a coat performing MacGyver-like maneuvers for robotic line repair and Ladder Logic fixes to keep production moving along. Dad liked his coat and XEROX badge.

When I would visit him, he would always have the coat and the badge on. His co-workers referred to him as the Grand-Old-Man. Dad started to become more spiritual during his later years, often discussing pure spirituality beyond dogma. Here he was very adamant about keeping in the present moment.

He became a deep follower of Deepak Chopra and similar authors searching for the Middle Path between material influences. Here it became apparent to me that he was searching for something, some kind of balance maybe.

When Mom and Dad finally moved back to Michigan, first in Holland, then Grand Rapids, they wanted to be closer to the kids. Of course as you might expect, the Kids scattered to the four winds with one left in Michigan. Here every parent I know of has this same experience. Everybody did their best to keep in touch though. I stayed in Michigan myself and would visit periodically. Every Christmas Mom and Dad had two Christmas trees and lights around the house. I always enjoyed visiting at this time.

Just before retirement, Dad began researching alternate energy sources especially Hydrogen fuel cells. Again I remember him in the basement researching and working with his lathe to create a transference source for propulsion. Also during this time, he created a ruler for measurement of drywall projects. He finished his garage using this tool (Again, always searching for that one thing to move forward from a creative thought).

In 2009, I remember sitting with him in the hospital before his heart surgery, Dad always had a smile on his face and wanted to try and connect with everyone as he was getting ready. Mom was always there with Dad, never leaving his side. He would always say to me that Mom was the best partner in the world.

I remember him always saying to her: “Hey Shirl!” “I love you!” Then he would look at me or the other kids and say: “I always enjoyed you kids when you were around and I love you!”

I know he would miss us from time-to-time in Grand Rapids, but whenever we’d visit, he would always hug and say “I love you”. Even at our last family gathering at home with Dad, everyone enjoyed a meal at the big table at the house and he would make the effort to look at us and say: “I love you!”

I will always remember Dad this way: Smiling, Laughing, and Saying: “I Love you!!!”


 Service Information

August 23, 2017

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church
1935 Plymouth Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Funeral Mass
August 23, 2017

11:00 AM
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church
1935 Plymouth Ave. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506

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