Former Flushing Councilwoman Julia Harrison died at age 97 on Aug. 3 in the hospice center at Flushing Hospital after a brief battle with stomach cancer.
She is survived by brother Dan Hirsch; her children, Chris Hirsch, Susan and Elizabeth; and grandchildren, Kanoa, Henri, Aezadi, Alex, Katherine, Julia and Olivia, as well as two great-grandchildren.
Harrison was born in Rochester to Hungarian immigrant parents. She married Joseph Harrison in 1954 and moved to Flushing. There, she became civically involved and received her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1972 from Queens College. That same year, she was elected Democratic District Leader in Flushing.
She lost her bid for the state Senate in 1978, but won a seat in the Assembly in 1983 to fill a vacancy. She was reelected in 1984 and then ran for City Council in 1985. She held the seat until 2001, when term limits were enforced.
“Former Councilwoman Julia Harrison served Flushing during a transitional period in our community’s history,” said Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), who now holds Harrison’s seat. “I know she fought hard against her illness for a long time, which is a testament to her tremendous strength. I offer my deepest condolences to her friends and family.”
The former councilwoman tried twice to get legislation passed to require businesses in the city to post signs that were in English. In a 2001 interview with The New York Times, Harrison said, ‘’English is the common language. It is the language in which business is conducted or should be.’’
Harrison had hoped to task a city agency with enforcing the law. Koo, who is also a business owner in Flushing, supports that idea.
The memorial service will be held on Aug. 18 at noon at Quinn-Fogarty Funeral Home, located at 192-15 Northern Blvd. in Flushing. She will be inurned at Calverton National Cemetery during a family-only ceremony.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that mourners make contributions in her name to Southern Poverty Law Center online at https:/!donate.splcenter.org!sslpage.aspx?pid=463 or via mail at 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL, 36104.