Richard Harber 1941-2009
9 February 2009
Richard Harber, whose career at Bristol spanned over 50 years, passed away in January. Professor David Wraith remembers ‘the kindest, most generous person I have known’.
Richard joined the University of Bristol in 1957. He first worked at the School of Veterinary Sciences in Langford. His talents and dedication in the field of microbiology were quickly seized upon there and he was put in charge of the Routine Microbiology Service after only two years. He subsequently moved to Medical Microbiology at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and then joined the University department in 1965.
Many of you will not know that the Harber name has been closely linked with the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, formerly Pathology and Microbiology, since 1933. Richard’s father Gordon joined the Department of Pathology in 1933 when the department was fused with the laboratories of the city analyst in bacteriology, then in Queen Square. This formed the Department of Preventative Medicine housed at Canynge Hall. Gordon Harber then took over as chief technician of the Department of Bacteriology in 1955 and moved that department to the new Medical School in 1965.
Richard became superintendent of the then Department of Microbiology in 1972 following his father's retirement and oversaw many changes including the union with the Department of Pathology.
Richard had many outside interests, including photography and motorcycling, and would enthusiastically cheer colleagues with his latest photographs of plants and birds. Richard’s immense contribution to the department and the University as a whole was recognised by the University with the Honorary degree of Master of Science; never has an Honorary degree been more deserved.
These facts hardly touch on the respect in which Richard was held and the deep affection felt for him by everyone who worked with him. If asked to sum up my own recollections of Richard, these would be that he was the kindest, most generous person I have known, always striving to make life better for other people and wonderfully positive.
We send our sincere condolences to Richard's wife Christine, who also worked in the department for 36 years. Between them, Richard and Christine ensured the smooth running and success of this department.