Ex-mayor, journalist loved music

Published February 14, 2008 2:48 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Conrad Harrison parlayed a distinguished journalism career covering public affairs into a political life that carried him to the highest levels of city government.

The former Salt Lake City mayor died Tuesday at 96 of causes incident to age.

Harrison had worked for years as a reporter and editor for the Deseret News after earlier newspaper jobs at the Logan Herald Journal and the Salt Lake Telegram. He was a sports reporter and sports editor for the Deseret News before transferring to the city desk where he covered, among other things, local government.

Because the Deseret News did not have a music critic in the 1950s, Harrison served as music editor besides his regular news beats for the then-afternoon paper.

"Even though that was considered a side job, that's the role we remember best as children," said daughter Linda Harrison. "We remember him always going to concerts, going on trips with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and we still have a collection of about 30,000 records he reviewed."

Harrison also served on the committee that recommended the Utah Symphony hire Maurice Abravanel as its music director.

Mayor J. Bracken Lee appointed the journalist as the city water commissioner in 1960.

Harrison won re-election to the commission three times before being appointed mayor by his fellow commissioners to replace Mayor Jake Garn, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974.

Garn had actually defeated Harrison in the mayor's race in 1971, an ordeal Garn said was difficult because of their friendship, but which Harrison handled with grace and class.

After a year as mayor, Harrison ran in 1975, but was defeated by political newcomer Ted Wilson.

"He lost that job to me after just one year," said Wilson. "You would think that would be a real blow to a guy, but he never acted that way. He patted me on the back after I won and said, 'Let's go to work.' "

"He was right by my side, helping me with anything I needed during the transition."

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