John MacNair Harmes, 96: Devoted family man, psychologist, teacher, outdoorsman, world traveler, trailblazer

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MANCHESTER, NH – John “Jack” MacNair Harmes, 96, of Manchester and Moultonborough, passed away peacefully on April 25, 2018 surrounded by his loving family and joined his beloved wife, Auxi.

He was born on February 21, 1922 in Great Bend, PA to Edward A. and Jessie (Callender) Harmes. At the age of 5 the family moved to Binghamton, NY, where he graduated from Binghamton Central High School in 1940.

Jack was a member of the First Presbyterian Church. He attended Duke University before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He proudly served our country and after World War II transferred to the University of Pennsylvania where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in psychology. In 1949 he earned a Master’s Degree in clinical psychology from New York University. Jack had further training at Harvard School of Public Health in theory and practice in consultation. After graduation he moved to New Hampshire and completed his internship at the New Hampshire State Hospital, then the Philbrook Center where he met and married his dear wife of 60 years, Auxilina.

Jack was an avid outdoors person. He enjoyed skiing at Cannon Mountain. As a young man he earned a bronze medal there for skiing the mountain in under 10 minutes. Later he spent many weekends on the mountain with his wife and their two daughters, Sharon and Marci. Jack was a life member of the Adirondack Mountain Club and a 46er, having climbed with his dad, all the peaks over 4,000 feet (21 without trails) in the Adirondacks. He was the youngest 46er at that time to achieve the feat while his dad was the oldest.

In 1958 Jack and Auxi bought land in Moultonborough on Lake Winnipesaukee and several years later built their cottage which is where the family gathers every year. When the family was growing up he enjoyed taking day trips in his boat to explore all the lake had to offer. He loved working outside and considered building stonewalls, raking, trimming shrubs and painting to be labors of love. He was the first president of the Marker 52 Association. Years later he was instrumental in conserving Ledgy Pond from developers, a challenging process encompassing more than a year, and then continued to be an active supporter of the Lakes Region Conservation Trust.

Jack was a devoted family man. When the family was growing up, he and Auxi enjoyed spending time with their daughters at the lake, skiing, traveling, and just being together. After the girls were married and grandchildren arrived, spending time with family continued to be a priority. In addition to cherishing time with family at the cottage, he never missed gathering in Vermont for Thanksgiving at the Lawyer’s, finding and cutting the “perfect” Christmas tree with the Duttons, and attending the grandchildren’s school and other events.

Jack enjoyed a variety of other interests. He had a deep appreciation for the arts which included theater, classical music, and opera, especially Puccini. He thoroughly enjoyed attending plays, particularly in the summer at the Barnstormers Theater. He had a passion for the New England Patriots and for many years had season tickets. Jack loved traveling. As a teenager he drove across the country with his brother and father. In 1972 and 1973 he took two four-week long cross country trips with Auxi and their daughters, visiting many national parks and relatives on the West Coast. Years later after their family had grown, Auxi and Jack enjoyed many more special trips to different parts of the world including Ireland, Greek Isles, Morocco, Portugal, Hungary and an Alaskan cruise. Their daughters and spouses surprised them with a 40th anniversary party upon returning from a trip to Nova Scotia with Ted and Isabel Harmes.

Jack’s 40 year work history involved numerous professional positions including being a founding staff member of Community Guidance Center of Manchester, consulting psychologist at NH Mental Health Department as well as at Jaffrey, Plaistow and Franklin school systems and the NH State Prison. In 1966 he was the chief psychologist at the Greater Lawrence Mental Health Center. Before retiring in 1991 he was a school psychologist for 17 years in Newburyport, MA.

Jack started teaching at the NH State Hospital where he taught a course to student nurses from northern New England hospitals. He offered a mental health series of courses at Community Guidance Center and the Greater Lawrence Mental Health Center. Later he was an instructor at Mount Saint Mary’s College and Emmanuel College.

He published two papers “A Yankee Tutor in Gillingham’s Court” and “Language Training Program in Child Guidance Center” and presented papers on dyslexia at national conferences. He was on NH Public Television as a panelist on learning problems and participated in a federal research grant on crisis focused treatment in child guidance.

Jack provided information to the founding organization of the NH Psychological Organization. He was president in 1962 and an emeritus member. He was a member of the American (Fellow) NH and Mass. Psychological Associations, American Orthopsychiatric Association (Fellow), and the Orton Dyslexia Society.

Even at 96 years of age, Jack’s mind was very sharp and he often astounded people with this trait. Up until two weeks of his passing he engaged in discussions about American culture, politics and world events. He recalled events from his childhood and talked knowledgeably about them. He was a man of strength, integrity and honor who will be deeply missed by his loving family and friends.

Family members include his daughters Sharon Lawyer and her husband, Lance, of Bakersfield, VT and Marcia “Marci” Dutton and her fiancee, Scott Houston, of Hooksett; five grandchildren, Tara Lawyer, Ryan Lawyer, Benjamin Dutton, Mitchell Dutton and Amelia Dutton. He also leaves Sarah Houston and Emma Houston as well as several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his beloved wife, Auxilina “Auxi” Harmes; his sister, Margaret “Peggy” Klotz; and his brother, Edward “Ted” Harmes.

The past 11 months were most difficult without Auxi, but the support around him made a significant difference. In August Jack’s nephew, Ed Harmes, visited from Texas and together they spent a memorable week at the cottage. The amazing compassion and dedication of Jack’s two caregivers, Krista and Roger, improved Jack’s quality of life. Most recently, another caregiver, Sid, had a profound impact on him. We are most grateful to his friends and neighbors for their visits and conversations. We are also incredibly thankful for the compassionate and devoted nursing, therapy, and administrative staff at Bedford Nursing and Rehabiliation Center.

After hearing the song “Try to Remember,” Jack slipped away peacefully surrounded by his loving family. We will always cherish his strong values, strength, and kind heart. He was loved by so many and will be forever missed by his loving family and friends.

He is gone from our sight but will live on in our hearts and lives forever.


SERVICES: All services are Monday May 7, 2018, beginning with calling hours from 9 to 10:15 a.m. at Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, 1799 Elm St., Manchester. A funeral ceremony will follow at 11 a.m. at Bedford Presbyterian Church, 4 Church Road, Bedford. Interment will follow at Mt. Calvary Cemetery, 474 Goffstown Rd., Manchester.

A celebration of Jack’s life will take place in August at the family cottage.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Jack’s name may be made to the Lakes Region Conservation Trust.

Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, Manchester is assisting the family with arrangements.

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