Obituary | Lorinda Beth Harris, Sept. 21, 1968 – Nov. 29, 2023

We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our daughter and sister, Lorinda Harris, on November 29, 2023. Shortly before her passing she was thoughtfully selecting gifts for her nephews in preparation for Thanksgiving. Two weeks later, she was unexpectedly gone as a result of an accident outside her home in Sebec, Maine, leaving the many who loved her devastated.

The daughter of Ted Harris and Karen Oleson, Lorinda grew up in the Bay Area, the oldest of five siblings. As a young girl, Lorinda loved the living room dance parties she and her siblings improvised to the tunes of Donna Summer and ABBA. One of her siblings remembers their dad, newly single, taking all five kids up to the family cabin and forgetting to bring sunblock along. After a day at the lake and the sunburns that followed, Lorinda spent the night slathering her four siblings head to toe in Noxzema. She was a concerned helper and a consummate older sister, and whether it was with over-the-counter skin cream or another emblem or demonstration of love, she was always quick to extend herself, especially for her family. This made a real difference when before finishing high school, the family gained three stepsisters from her father’s second marriage to Heidi Clawson. Following a predictable pattern, these new sisters quickly came to look up to and adore her as well.

Lorinda was a Piedmont High School Varsity Cheerleader and was often seen driving around town in the family’s wood paneled station wagon, frequently with Lou Gramm blasting on the radio. In a family full of Spanish and Portuguese speakers, Lorinda chose to study German. And while she always insisted that she greatly admired the members of her own family, they couldn’t help but notice that German was the home language of her best friend Michelle Mueller’s family, whose house became a second home to Lorinda during her teenage years. Lorinda was always grateful for the influence of the many loyal friends she enjoyed both in Piedmont and her later homes elsewhere.

Upon graduating from high school, Lorinda attended UC Irvine, where she quickly fell in with a wonderful group of friends and sorority sisters in the Tri Delta Sorority. She even went on to serve as the Sorority President. These friendships and relationships brought her immense joy during formative years. They could also be the source of some mischief from time to time. Her siblings remember one spring break when the family drove down to Southern California to hit the amusement parks and visit Lorinda during her freshman year. While in town, Lorinda had all 7 siblings stay in the dorms with her for the night while many students were away on vacation. Rumor has it that she took her siblings to a dorm party that evening. Rumor also has it that none of the underaged partygoers ever told their parents or ever complained!

After graduating from UC Irvine, and following in her father’s footsteps, Lorinda pursued a degree in law. While at law school she was able to put her German to use, spending part of a semester in Germany on a study abroad program. She graduated from the University of San Diego School of Law and spent the following years practicing in law firms in San Diego and Orange County. 

Despite her advanced academic degree and professional success, Lorinda remained down to earth and able to laugh at herself. One favorite family story regarded an apparent gap in her familiarity with world geography. The family remembers that Lorinda commented to two sisters about to depart on separate study abroad programs in Spain and Brazil, “How great! You can visit each other while you’re away!” Whether it actually happened that way or not, to the date of her passing Lorinda never failed to laugh good-naturedly when the story was told in the family. And retold. And retold again.

Eventually, Lorinda returned to the Bay Area to work at the law firm Thelen, Reid & Priest, where her father practiced law. When her dad found out about Lorinda’s offer of employment at the firm, he was worried that they were hiring her because of her connection to him, a senior partner. He was relieved and pleased to discover instead that she was in fact hired on the strength of her own merit, for possessing the pedigree, skills and experience the firm was in need of at that time. In this way, she loved to work in the same firm where most of her younger siblings got summer jobs doing secretarial support work. Both she and they were aware, however, that Lorinda spent her tour there working as an actual attorney. Her family admired her for this distinction in roles, and looked up to her professional success.

During this time, Lorinda also developed a love of cooking and became quite accomplished at it — to her family’s shock, as the years leading up to this interest were peppered with cooking horror stories including copious quantities of burnt toast! However, her siblings remember Lorinda cooking, hosting, and serving a delicious and beautifully planned Christmas dinner for the entire family — not accepting any assistance whatsoever in its preparation, despite their initially quite preoccupied attempts to insist. Over the years that followed the family’s newly-discovered ease with regard to her culinary skill, Lorinda poured over issues of “Food & Wine” and “Bon Appétit” magazines, drawn to the more complicated recipes. It resulted in some amazing meals, that her family and friends were the grateful beneficiaries of. And none of them included even remotely overdone toast, which was a detail that all who knew her past sincerely appreciated!

After many years working in law, Lorinda decided to take time off to travel and see the world. Her travels took her throughout Europe and Asia where in many of the locations she visited, she reconnected with friends who themselves had gone abroad. There’s even a story of her having a chance run-in with an uncle and cousins in an airport halfway around the world in Croatia! Lorinda mentioned on numerous occasions how happy she was during this time.

Following her return to the U.S., Lorinda was accepted into the National Security Studies program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and received her certificate with Honors. She started a new career in government and law working for Senator Susan Collins of Maine as a legal advisor, which included working for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. She was passionate for justice and held a deep love of politics, dedicating herself to her work and demonstrating an unwavering patriotism for her country. 

Lorinda eventually returned to Northern California, this time to Sacramento, where she worked for the law firm DLA Piper in their labor law practice group. This position involved traveling to counsel clients on labor related issues.  It was a role she tolerated more than relished, but that by all reports she carried out with distinction.

Lorinda eventually left her career and moved to a beautiful lakeside house in Maine — a dream she had harbored for some time, and like most objectives she set herself in her life, was accomplished directly upon her setting her mind to carrying it out. In the years that followed her move, she focused her energies into making her house a home — a beautiful and thoughtful one, as Lorinda was apt to do. She loved to host friends and family for lobster boils, boating on the lake, and cozy fireside visits. She even bravely hosted a Harris Family reunion there. It turned out to be a family favorite, despite her astonishment at the amount of food the family was able to cram into her previously very sparse, tidy and organized refrigerator. Her primary loves in life were evident on the walls of her home, which were covered with the photos of friends, family, and travel adventures from all over the world. 

Being the oldest sibling in a family of 8 kids gave Lorinda the ability to act as a mother to many — whether they always appreciated it or not… However, all agreed that her generosity towards friends and family knew no bounds, and she was always ready to offer support and compassion to those who needed it. She was quick to check in on siblings with a thoughtful text, phone call or card, or to seek out the perfect gift for a friend. Her nephews were also beneficiaries of these qualities, and were the frequent objects of thoughtful videos, visits, gifts and drawing sessions she did for and with them. She loved being an aunt to her nephews and an honorary aunt to friends’ kids, and considered this role one of her greatest honors — a tribute to both them and her.

Throughout the years, Lorinda loved to remind her family of funny memories from their childhood, too — often from time spent at the family cabin, which she cherished and loved to visit each summer. She had nicknames for everyone. She loved to watch Seinfeld and was known to recite entire episodes. She bonded with her nephews over their shared obsession with Stars Wars. And although she was the world’s slowest eater, she would scarf down cheesecake and beef stroganoff with equal zeal. Lorinda departs this life with a legacy of loyalty, kindness, and unwavering love for family and friends, and leaves an indelible mark of these notable attributes on all who were fortunate enough to know her. We will greatly miss her.

Lorinda leaves behind her father and stepmother Ted and Heidi Harris; brother Ted Harris, Jr.; six sisters: Rebecca Harris, Anne Harris, Amelia Clawson (Chad Carter), Abby Low (Brian), Jennifer Harris, and Greta Clawson; her five nephews: Thomas, Matthew, Andrew, Alec, and Nico; and a wide circle of adoring aunts, uncles, and cousins, all of whom held a special place in her heart. She was preceded in death by her mother Karen Oleson.

Our family is grateful for the outpouring of love and support following this sudden loss. 

A memorial service will be held Saturday, December 16th at 4:00 p.m. at the Sequoyah Country Club, 4550 Heafey Road, Oakland, California. The memorial service will also be live-streamed via Zoom at the following link:

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