A self-portrait of JohnWe have lost one of the best of us. John Bascom Buchanan Harrity, aka Johnny, left us to begin his next adventure on Wednesday (November 7, 2012), passing unexpectedly at home in Hartford, one week shy of his 22nd birthday. Born on November 14, 1990 in Hartford, CT, John was the son of Linda Buchanan of Hartford and John Harrity of East Hartland, CT. He was the youngest of three, following his brother, Nicholas, and sister, Caitlin, whom he loved beyond measure.

John attended the Interdistrict Montessori School in Hartford, Two Rivers Middle Magnet School in East Hartford, and graduated from Watkinson School with the Class of 2008. He went on to Clark University in Worcester, MA, and to Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, which he was looking forward to returning to in January. He was employed by the CT Science Center as a Visitors Services Specialist, where he had many friends, and enjoyed helping children and young people discover science and nature.

John was a poet, photographer, activist, writer, comedian, traveler and student. He loved music, video games, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, nature documentaries narrated by David Attenborough, and the knowledge that Barack Obama had been re-elected. And he loved the city of his birth and his life, Hartford. His poem, “Schizophrenia, For My Brother,” was nationally recognized, and he was honored to be the 2007 recipient of the Friends and Enemies of Wallace Stevens Scholarship. In 2009, he was selected as one of six collaborating poets to participate in the joint Age in America project of the Hartford Public Library and the Amistad Center for Art and Culture, which featured an art installation of beautiful banners along Main Street in Hartford, with excerpts from the original poems he contributed to the project.

John was also a caretaker and a healer, he was our heart. He lived his life with compassion, humility, love and laughter, and the warmth of his spirit radiated out to all who knew him. John hugged freely and often, holding you in his big arms, letting you know how much he cared. He believed that if we bring happiness to people, we will be happy. As a Buddhist, John believed that death is not the end of life, only of this life. We wish him an auspicious rebirth.

John with his two best friends Tyler and Colin on their high school graduation day.Together with his parents, brother and sister, John leaves many family and friends who will miss him greatly, including his mother’s partner, Richard Dobratz of Coventry, CT; his father’s wife, Cindy Harrity; his grandmothers Sharon Buchanan of Portland, CT and Eileen Harrity of Stratford, CT; aunts and uncles Kathi Buchanan of Seattle, WA, Joseph and Catherine Buchanan of Yakima, WA, Mary Kathryn Harrity of Norwalk, CT, Patricia and Dave Nicholas of New Milford, CT, and Alyce and Steve Pine of Flower Mound, TX; and much-loved cousins Kevin Nicholas, Caroline Nicholas Marquez, Maggi, Laurie and Michael Buchanan, and Jade Buchanan-Moh, extended family members, and more friends than he ever knew he had, including friends who were there for him in the hard times and the good times, Brendan Jonathan-Lusack, Michael Chambers, Colin Tress, Taariq Khan, Enrique Espinoza, Adan Parker and Julia Suazo. John was predeceased by his grandfathers Bascom Frank Buchanan and John Joseph Harrity, his uncle, Michael Buchanan, and his very good friend, Tyler Wisser.

Family and friends will gather to commemorate and celebrate John’s life at a Memorial Service on Tuesday, November 13 at 12 p.m. at the beautiful Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Ave in Hartford, followed by lunch at the Polish National Home at 60 Charter Oak Ave, where the family hopes that people will join them to share a meal, and continue to remember and celebrate Johnny more informally. Calling hours are Monday, November 12, 6-8 p.m. at the Dillon-Baxter Funeral Home, 1276 Berlin Turnpike, Wethersfield. who has charge of the arrangements. Messages for the family may be left on their website at www.dillonbaxter.org.

In lieu of flowers, John would be honored if contributions were sent to help fund a student in need of financial aid to participate in Watkinson’s Service Learning trip to Cambodia, to work with Cambodia Living Arts. Write “John Harrity” in the memo section, and mail contributions to Watkinson School, 180 Bloomfield Ave, Hartford, CT 06105.

The family would like to specially thank Rabbi Donna Berman and the Charter Oak Cultural Center, Matt Fleury and the CT Science Center, and all of our friends and family, for the outpouring of love and support that they have received during this time.

John set a high bar for the rest of us. Now we must all take up the task of making the world a better place. Thank you, Johnny. Not goodbye, just see you later…

John and Tyler Reflection Project

The aim of this project is to create a calm space for inner reflection and meditation, in memory of Tyler Wisser and John Harrity on Watkinson School’s campus.


Both Tyler and John were deeply contemplative and spiritually aware individuals, and we hope this space helps to foster the kind of mindfulness and compassion they lived their lives with.

If you are interested in supporting this project please send any donations directly to Watkinson School labelled for the Johnny Harrity & Tyler Wisser project.

Watkinson School
180 Bloomfield Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105

All donations no matter how big or small are immensely appreciated.

You can visit the project’s blog here:

Posted November 27, 2012 by Anna

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