Neighbors inspect a tree that fell over Howe Street at Nob Hill Avenue North during the Columbus Day Storm that hit the Pacific Northwest on October 12, 1962. The storm originated in the central Pacific Ocean as Typhoon Freda and became an extratropical cyclone as it moved over cooler waters and into the jet stream, producing sustained high winds and gusts of up to 80-180 mph that pummeled the coastline and western interior from Northern California to British Columbia. The storm caused 46 deaths and injured hundreds more. Damage was estimated at $250 million across the region, over $2 billion in today’s dollars. Oregon suffered the most damage, accounting for $200 million of the estimated total. The storm quickly weakened as it moved north past British Columbia. Although the region has been threatened by extratropical cyclones in the intervening 58 years, none have surpassed or even come close to matching the violent and destructive force of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm.
Born and raised in Seattle, Homer Harris (1916-2007) grew up in his parents’ home near the Washington Park Arboretum. In his early years he played football and other games in the park.
At Garfield High School, he became the first black captain of the football team, in 1933. He attended the University of Iowa on a sports scholarship — choosing not to attend the University of Washington because of perceived racist attitudes toward black athletes. He became the first African American player to captain a Big Ten team, and in 1937 earned the honor of Most Valuable Player. At that time, the National Football League banned black players. Harris got a job coaching football at A&T College (HBCU) in North Carolina.
Following his mother’s hope that he would become a physician, he attended Meharry Medical College (HBCU) in Tennessee. After receiving his medical degree he interned in Kansas City, then trained in dermatology at the University of Illinois.
He began his practice in downtown Seattle at the historic Medical Dental Building, and achieved considerable success. In 1989 the Black Heritage Society of Washington State honored him as a Pioneer Black Doctor.
Washington State declared November 13, 2002 Dr. Homer Harris Day. In November 2002, the Seattle Parks Foundation announced that an anonymous donor had given $1.3 million to build a Central Area park, Homer Harris Park, which opened in May 2005.
Above: Karen Daubert, Homer Harris, Stimson Bullitt, & Ken Bounds attending May 2005 dedication of Homer Harris Park
Born in Kingston, Jamaica to a mother of Chinese descent and a father of African descent, Denice Johnson (1948-1997) completed architectural studies at Tufts and MIT in 1976. She married John Hunt, also an architect, in 1978; and they relocated to Seattle. They resided, with son Collin and daughter Julian, at 1104 8th Avenue West in Seattle’s West Queen Anne neighborhood.