Memorials have recently appeared on the bench outside Peet’s on Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park where for years Spencer Harris enjoyed discussions on a multitude of subjects with fellow Peetniks. Harris was away a couple months ago when the nearby apartment where he had lived for 27 years was entered by police at the request of neighbors concerned for his well-being. The apartment was found to be packed wall to wall with various accumulations presenting a possibly unsafe situation.
Harris, 74, was given a 24-hour eviction notice and forced to sort through his belongings. Less than a week later he drove his car to the Palo Alto Baylands and shot himself. The Mercury News report on this tragic event includes a balanced discussion of hoarding and mental health. A brass plaque honoring Spencer Harris is now permanently attached to his favorite bench.
A memorial service for Mr. Harris will be held in the main sanctuary of the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church on Thursday, July 21, 2011, at 7:30 pm. Donations in his honor may be made to the Sierra Club, 85 Second St., San Francisco, CA 93105, or to the San Francisco Symphony, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102.