Harry E. McFarland’s email signature “Aspire to Inspire while looking to the future,” conveys his accomplishments as he fulfilled the Red Cross Mission, preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies, in the last 22+ years of his 84-year life. A veteran of the Korean War serving in the United States Air Force, Harry’s leadership skills, mentorship, generosity and compassion were exhibited in all that he did. Emeritus member of the Indiana, PA Board of Directors, ensuring stellar service provision; local and national Red Cross Instructor, teaching life-saving skills to hundreds of Red Cross volunteers and staff; local Disaster Action Team Chair, responding to local family fires and serving on more than 20 national assignments from flash flooding to hurricanes to serving in New York during the tragic events of September 11, 2001; Harry helped thousands of families recover from disaster.
Just a few weeks before his passing, Harry trained the newest Disaster Action Team members at the Indiana, PA chapter office. In May, a tragic fire ended life for a mother, her fiancée and 9-year old daughter; as there were no survivors, firefighters did not call upon the Indiana Chapter of American Red Cross. Harry noted that upon reading the paper three days later, “I realized that although we were not called to respond to the fire, there were two children who survived and that I should do something for them.” Harry reached out to the grandmother of the two children who survived only because they spent the evening of the fire at their grandmother’s home. He gathered blankets, comfort kits, backpacks and toys to share with the children and met with the grandmother to discuss other ways the Red Cross could assist the family and followed through with Red Cross financial assistance. Though a tragedy, this story speaks well to Harry’s commitment to the Red Cross mission.
On his Facebook page, Harry explained about himself, “I am very happy to be volunteering my service to the American Red Cross…. To be a volunteer is a great way to spend your time.” Every day, Harry lived his life responding to the needs of others, both strangers and friends were inspired by his energy, integrity, and kindness; he alleviated human suffering down the street, across the county and around the world. Harry personified the Red Cross mission and his life motto “aspire to inspire” with his never ending commitment to recruit and train volunteers and inform the community of the critical work of the Red Cross. Harry led by example – living a life full of purpose, never letting his declining health slow his spirit or generosity, Harry pushed forward, always focused on helping others to recover. Harry’s aspirations will not end with his passing; instead, the Red Cross family of volunteers, staff and donors will forever be energized by the imprint he left on our hearts.
Dana M. Bauer, LSW, Executive Director, American Red Cross, Westmoreland-Armstrong and Indiana Chapters.