Captain Phil Harris from the “Deadliest Catch” cable show will be missed by fellow fishermen, said a Gloucester lobsterman.
Captain Phil Harris from the popular television show “Deadliest Catch” died Tuesday of complications from a stroke he suffered on Jan. 29. He was 53. Harris’ stroke occurred while he was unloading the Cornelia Marie, his crab fishing boat that he operated in St. Paul Island, Alaska.
Harris’s presence will be missed among fishermen, said George Hardy, 59, a Gloucester lobsterman.
“It was a great loss to the fishing community because Harris was able to show how tough it is for people who fish for crab, and he really showed the lifestyle of the fishermen so people could understand what it’s like to work out on the ocean,” said Hardy, whose boat is The Hard Bottom.
“Deadliest Catch” airs on the Discovery Channel and documents the adventures and struggles of fishermen as they catch King and Opilio Crab in the rough and icy waters of the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia.
“Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him,” reads a condolence statement issued by the Discovery Channel. “We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart. We share our tremendous sadness over this loss with the millions of viewers who followed Phil’s every move.”
In 2008, Discovery and “Deadliest Catch” crew hosted and filmed “After the Catch” discussions in Gloucester between Alaskan/West Coast fishing captains and their New England/East Coast counterparts. Harris and the Alaskan crews also took part in a fundraiser for the Plum Cove School, helping to raise money for the PTO. When Harris left Gloucester he did not forget his ties; he recently donated jackets to Gloucester Little League.
“Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end,” said Josh and Jake, Harris’s sons, who were also deckhands on the boat. “For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down. We will remember and celebrate that strength.”
Harris’ fans describe him as tough talking, fierce and passionate about fishing on the open seas. Despite the illusion of his weathered face and tattooed arms, fans saw through to his big heart, and said in condolences that he was “a force to be reckoned with.”
In a video on the Discovery Web site, Harris is seen standing on the docks in front of the Cornelia Maria with a chilly wind blowing though his hair.
“You’ve got to be a little twisted to do this job and you have to like to live on the edge,” Harris said. “I wouldn’t want to do a different job; I’ve done it all my life. Nothing else would interest me as much as this.”