In Memoriam: Harry E. Oakes


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death December 19, 1991 of Harry E. Oakes. He was 54 years old.

Harry, Chief Engineer of R/V Knorr, was born February 13, 1937 and attended Providence Trade School and the U.S. Navy Air Conditioning and Refrigeration School. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1954 to 1959 as a Sea Duty Engineman, Second Class. Following his military service, Harry worked as a diesel engine repairman for Boston Diesel Service from 1959 to 1962, as a maintenance mechanic for Avco Research and Development from 1962 to 1964. He began employment at the Institution as an Oiler aboard R/V Chain in September 1964, leaving in March 1965 for a position as a diesel mechanic at Boston Diesel Service from 1965 to 1967. Well known at WHOI for his woodworking skills, Harry worked as a carpenter’s helper for New England Store Fronts, Inc. from 1967 to 1969 and as a carpenter with A. DiChicco Builders from 1969 to 1970, when he returned to WHOI as Deck Engineer aboard R/V Chain.

Through the 1970’s Harry worked in various engineering positions aboard the Chain, Knorr and Oceanus and as a mechanic and machinist in the Facilities Department. He was part of the crew which delivered the new R/V Oceanus to Woods Hole in 1975. He joined the crew of the Knorr in 1979 as First Assistant Engineer. In 1984 he was promoted to Chief Engineer, a position he held until his death. Harry had remained with the Knorr when it traveled to McDermott Shipyard in Louisiana in February 1989 for a major refit and upgrade. Poor health forced him to return home in May 1991.

Harry is survived by his wife, Mary Jane Oakes, of East Wareham; a son, Harry E. Oakes Jr. of Caliornia; and a daughter, Karen A. Oakes of Vermont. Visiting hours will be 2-4 p.m. Sunday, December 22, at the Nickerson-Bourne Funeral Home in Bourne. A mass will be held at 9 a.m. Monday, December 23, at St. Patrick’s Church in Wareham, with burial following at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be sent to the Lighthouse Hospice Association, Inc., P.O. Box 448, Wareham, MA 02571.


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