PatriotLedger.com May 28, 2009
By Sydney Schwartz
MARSHFIELD — Harlow dedicated nearly 50 years of his life to keeping the Marshfield Airport going and improving its safety. Town officials named the airport field after him in 2001.
Harlow, a longtime pilot and a member of the airport commission since its inception in 1963, died on Tuesday. He was 86.
“We credited him with not only being one of the founding fathers, but also keeping the airport going though those times,” said Robert Merrill, a former airport commissioner and friend of Harlow.
He said Harlow had “a passion for life and aviation” and loved the airport “and the pilots and people that flew there.”
“We certainly would not have one of the nicest general aviation facilities in the country if it wasn't for George's dedication, energy, calm demeanor and passion for aviation,” said Ann Pollard, the airport’s manager. “He has been a wonderful inspiration to me and to so many others.”
Harlow served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. During his college years, he flew out of Chatham, doing mosquito control work and taking people on flights.
He graduated from Harvard University in 1950. When he retired, he was an administrative engineer at Tufts Medical Center.
He was among the nascent airport commissioners who, in 1965, convinced town meeting to buy what is now Marshfield Municipal Airport. At the time, it was a farm with a landing strip.
The commissioners had been unable to garner enough support at two previous town meetings.
Friends and fellow commissioners say Harlow worked to make sure that the airport was safe and professionally run. He also acted as the airport’s unofficial historian.
He was kind, gentle and generous, had a calm demeanor, a positive attitude and a sharp wit, and was able to say a lot with few words, friends and fellow commissioners say.
Harlow also served on the public works board in the 1970s.
The only decision he was unhappy with, Merrill said, was painting the airport building tan. Harlow loved the fact that it was once a barn and thought it should remain red.
In 2001, after Harlow had served on the commission for 36 years, selectmen named the airport field for him at the airport commission’s request.
Merrill said then that the commission kidded with Harlow about naming the airport terminal for him after the commission secured a grant for the terminal’s renovation.
Harlow scoffed at the request, but then jokingly said that he perhaps wouldn’t mind the field being named after him, Merrill said. Now, Merrill said, all maps of the airport bear Harlow’s name.
“After they named the airport after him, I always referred to him, ‘How are you doing, Mr. Airport?’ He got a big kick of out of that,” airport commission Chairman William Francis said.
“He was a very easy man to make smile because he had a great sense of humor. He may not have been physically overpowering, but he was definitely head and shoulders above so many of his peers.”
Friends and family members say Harlow remained dedicated to flying until his death. He bought a plane with Merrill in 2002 and flew until he was 83.
“He always loved to fly,” said his daughter Jane Page, who lives in Baltimore. “He was obviously extremely happy any time he flew someplace.”
Merrill said Harlow “was forever young in my mind. He was the strength of the airport commission. He was the backbone of the airport commission. He was always there at commission meetings. Commissioners would come and go, George Harlow was always there.”
In addition to Page, he leaves another daughter, Kathryn Harlow of Cleveland, Ohio; two sons, David Harlow of Kingston and Edward Harlow of Framingham; and five grandchildren. His wife, Phyllis, died in 1997. Harlow was also predeceased by a son, Clifton.