Family Matriarch Dies Week After 98th Birthday

OCEAN CITY — Lois Evelyn Carmean Harrison, the matriarch who awakened post-World War II growth in Ocean City with construction of the Harrison Hall Hotel, passed peacefully at the age of 98 in the early hours of Thursday, Sept. 27.

Mrs. Harrison was a member of Stevenson United Methodist Church. She had eight siblings of which she was the last remaining.

Friends may call at the Burbage Funeral Home in Berlin on Tuesday between 6-8 p.m. or on Wednesday one hour before the service, which will be held at 11 a.m. at Stevenson United Methodist Church in Berlin.

Harrison, daughter of Arthur and Addie Carmean, was born in Eure, N.C., on Sept. 18, 1909. She attended Newport News Business School. Two months after matriculation, she was offered and accepted a position in food management at the Patrick Henry Embarkation Camp. Her next position, in restaurant management, was held at the Chamberlin Hotel in Old Point Comfort, Va. Sydney Banks, her employer and owner of the Shoreham Hotel in Ocean City, promoted her to manager of the Shoreham, bringing her to Worcester County.

Banks had acquired the Ocean City hotel from Nadine Harrison, wife of Orlando Harrison. Nadine Harrison arranged for Harrison to meet one of her three single brothers-in-law, G. Hale Harrison, who operated Harrison Nurseries, once the world’s largest fruit and ornamental tree nursery.

The two immediately connected. They were engaged by their third date. Harrison later said accepting his marriage proposal was the best decision she ever made, and that having three children together, Helen, Hale and John, was the best thing she ever did.

In 1951, Harrison made her mark on the landscape of Ocean City by building the Harrison Hall Hotel. It was the first hotel constructed on the island in 20 years, a period that included the Great Depression and World War II. The building was not erected without difficulty. After completion of its foundation, the Korean War erupted and a federal building moratorium was instituted.

Harrison and her husband did not lose courage. They succeeded in obtaining U.S. Government permission to complete the building. The Harrison Hall opened for business on July 3, 1951. Harrison’s sons have carried on the business she began. Today, the Harrison Group is the largest property owner and private employer in the county.

Harrison was involved in numerous social organizations. She was president of the Berlin Lioness Club, The Soroptomist Club and the Women’s Democratic Club. She was also a member of the Ocean City Women’s Club. The Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association honored her with its “Steel Magnolia” award, as did the Soroptomist Club with its “Woman of Distinction” award.

Harrison was a second mother and friend to many. She is survived by her daughter, Helen Faucette of Ormond Beach, Fla; sons, Hale Harrison of Ocean City and John Harrison of Berlin; grandchildren, John R. Faucette of Apopka, Fla., Tiffany Faucette of Ormond Beach, Fla., G. Hale Harrison of Ocean City, Catherine H. Restelli of  Baltimore, Stephanie H. Dunay of Charlottesville, Va., Ashley Harrison of Berlin and John Harrison Jr. of Berlin; great-grandchildren, John R. Faucette of Apopka, Fla., Samantha Faucette of Apopka, Fla., Edward Restelli IV of Baltimore, Olivia Restelli IV of Baltimore, Harrison Dunay of Charlottesville, Va., and Wyatt Dunay of Charlottesville, Va.; and in-laws, John “Dick” Faucette, Karen Harrison and Alberta Harrison.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Stevenson United Methodist Church or to the Calvin B. Taylor House in Berlin.