PSNI Marketing Director Denise Harrison Dies

Harrison, 58, waged a lengthy battle with cancer, always lived her life in highly selfless way.

It’s safe to say many people who knew Denise Harrison have learned a lot more about her since her death on Monday morning than they knew about her during her life, but that’s exactly how she liked it.

As Professional Systems Network International executive director Chris Miller said after learning of the organization’s marketing director’s death after a lengthy battle with cancer on Monday, “She didn’t allow many to know of her condition in the past year as she wanted to focus on doing her work and interacting with as many (PSNI members) as possible.”

Harrison, 58, spent the past 20 or so years as a strategic marketer, writer and editor in the systems integration space, but never sought the spotlight, said Miller in his announcement. She learned of her diagnosis in December 2011.

“Denise never wanted sympathy for her condition and continued to have a wonderful sense of humor right up until the end,” he said in an email announcing Harrison’s death. “We are all very thankful for the commitment and contributions she made to our industry.”

And as quietly as Harrison did her work with PSNI and for the industry during her tenure, she was even less public about another passion to which she dedicated her life: missing people. It’s a cause to which she had no direct connection, but one on which she exerted plenty of energy.

Harrison created an online virtual garden called Garden for the Missing in an online world known as Second Life, according to Kelly Murphy of Project Jason. She placed posters of missing people among the virtual trees, bushes, flowers and plant life, says Murphy, allowing users to view the hundreds of posters and attracting hundreds of people a day at its peak. She partnered with Project Jason as a way of expanding the Garden of the Missing’s reach.

“Denise didn’t have a missing loved one, nor did she know someone who was missing,” wrote Murphy in her tribute to Harrison. “What she had was a rare gift: someone outside of our circle who truly cared and understood the pain as much as one could without experiencing it themselves.”

Murphy was among few who knew about Harrison’s cancer fight.

“She decided that her journey with the illness was going to remain private, other than to be shared with immediate family members and a few close friends,” she wrote. “She didn’t want people to feel sorry for her or worry about her. She wanted life all around her to go on as it always had.

“Denise bore the hardship of her illness with grace and dignity. She kept working until the end, caring so much about doing a good job and helping others. She told me about the aches and pains and losing her hair, but she never complained; she just explained,” wrote Murphy.

Donations in Harrison’s memory can be mailed to:

Project Jason
PO Box 59054
Renton, WA 98058