Steve Harrison FBPA


With a heavy heart, we share the news of the passing of Steven J. Harrison, PhD, CMI, FAMI, FBPA

In 2012, Steve Harrison received the Association of Medical Illustrators’ Lifetime Achievement Award, the most prestigious of the many awards and honors he earned during his 40-year career as a medical illustrator and educator. They include the Association of Medical Illustrators’ Brödel Award for Excellence in Education (2006), the Louis Schmidt Award for outstanding contributions to the progress of biomedical communications from the BioCommunications Association (2009) and CINE Golden Eagle Awards from the Chicago and New York film festivals.

Born on January 25, 1947, in White Plains, New York, Steve was the only son of Joseph Harrison, an executive at Kennecott Copper Corporation, and the former Etta Belle Buckaloo of Lewes, Delaware. He attended Pleasantville High School, where his art teacher, Walter Hahn, encouraged him to pursue a career in medical illustration. After two years’ undergraduate study at the University of Georgia, Athens, he received his BS (1969) and MS (1970) degrees in that subject from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

Steve held positions at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Dallas. He was also the Medical Art Director at the Arizona Heart Institute—where he served as technical advisor for “The Operation,” a 1983 public television program featuring the first live broadcast of an open heart procedure—and Artist-in-Residence at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. An active member of the Association of Medical Illustrators since1972, he was a former chair of the Board of Governors, as well as a vice-chair of the Board of Certification of Medical Illustrators and a fellow of the BioCommunications Association.

In 1991, Steve returned to the Medical College of Georgia to join the Department of Medical Illustration faculty, becoming chair of the department in 1993. His longstanding interest in the indigenous art of the American Southwest prompted a serious study of the subject, resulting in a doctorate in art education from the University of Georgia in 2008.

Having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in the early 2000s, Steve retired from the Medical College of Georgia in 2011 to devote more time to his own artwork, and to indulge in his passion for automobile racing. The proud owner of an Alfa Romeo, he sometimes attended professional meetings sporting a full driving suit, complete with sponsor patches.

Steve died on January 13, 2023, at the American Wings of Grace assisted living facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, less than two weeks shy of his 76th birthday. His marriages to Suzanne Ramberg-Becker, May S. Cheney, Janie Blankenship, Elizabeth Harmon, and Jennifer Walker all ended in divorce. His son Timothy predeceased him. His immediate survivors are his son, Christopher Harrison, of Seattle, Washington, and a half sister, Helen H. Nicholson, of Sag Harbor, New York. A memorial service is planned for the spring at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Lewes, Delaware, where he will be interred with his family. Contributions in his memory to the Parkinson’s Foundation are suggested.