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In Memory of Dr. Alva H. Harris (Dec 22, 1928 – March 19, 2013) – He will be missed!

“A retired Professor of practically anything you can think of”

Alva dedicated his last years to Parkinson’s Research!

I had the opportunity of meeting Dr. Alva Harris almost two years ago when he was promoting his first book “Born on a Buzzard’s Stump” at the Craven Arts Festival.

My first and lasting impression of Alva was a very kind and intelligent man who embraced and overcame any obstacles that life had dealt him. He was an optimist and didn’t let Parkinson’s Disease inhibit his goals of helping educate others about this horrific disease that he finally succumbed to on March 19, 2012.

When I heard that Alva died, my heart was heavy with sadness, but I was thankful that he wasn’t suffering anymore.

Instead of surrendering to this debilitating disease, Alva fought to the end as he strived to shed light on living with Parkinson’s Disease on his blog:

Please watch Alva’s Buzzard’s Myth: Adventures of a Free Spirit from Egg to Infinity video as “it ties perfectly to who he is and where he was going” – Janet Green.

During my video interview with him, Alva considered himself, “a retired professor of practically anything you can think of. I’ve been a college professor, a gold miner, a commercial fisherman, a trapper, a hunter, a biological collector, and now I’ve written a book. It took me ten years to finish it and I’ve re-written it twice. It records all episodes from my birth on a buzzard’s stump to my present stage with Parkinson’s. I’ve enjoyed what I’m doing and I’m still working on it. The episodes in the book are all true as far as my memory goes and their may be some embellishments. There’s some things left out, but that’s the way memory goes.

The book, Born on a Buzzard’s Stump, really portrays an epic struggle for survival. From a boy who had no means of support except from his own hands. I learned to be a hunter, a trapper, mostly for commercial reasons.

At the Buzzard’s Stump in Hyde County, I was raised in a primitive area without electricity or plumbing. When I left high school to go to college, it was the first time I had electricity. I started college in 1947 at NC State and finished there in 1965. It took me that long to get a PhD in Wildlife and Natural Sciences.

During the meantime, I raised a family and had various odd jobs to support myself. One of which was driving to Alaska three times and back in a Jeep and working in the gold mines, working on a salmon troller.

I spent three years as a Navigator on a Coast Guard ship in Alaska. There were many episodes through my Coast Guard service that include things that aren’t normally associated with the service. Such as killing a bear, mounting it and making a bear skin for the Captain’s Quarters.

I was transferred to a Coast Guard Air Base in Kodiak because of an injury I received on the ship. There I flew as an observer in the PBY’s of the Coast Guard patrolling the Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska.

All of these things are mentioned in the Born on a Buzzard’s Stump book. The incidents range all the way from commercial fishing, to teaching, to research, and to finally end up as a writer and author.” – Dr. Alva Harris

Alva asked Janet Green, his longtime Editor and very close family friend “to finish the circle of Buzzard’s Myth and design a vintage photo montage of his travels that coincide with the Buzzard’s Myth memoir. Jan is hoping to publish it for Parkinson’s Awareness Month in April”.

Jan Green wants people to know, “that the Chancellor of the NC State has asked to put the book in the school’s libraries, and certainly bookshops, for fellow Wolfpackers to enjoy and learn from. He clearly respected Alva as much as the rest of us.”

She also said, “North Carolina is so fortunate that Alva took the time to write this memoir and develop it through his website and other marketing efforts (like Kickstarter) like he did, because the beautiful State will surely benefit, as will visitors and family to come.”

Please leave a message for Alva’s family here.

“Memorials are suggested to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Grand Central Station, PO Box 4777, New York, New York 10163-4777 or by visiting to donate online for Parkinson’s Research.” –

May you rest in peace, Alva! My thoughts and prayers are with Alva’s family and friends. He will truly be missed by many!

Wendy Card