Black HistoryObituary

Charles Harrison, 87, Famed Industrial Designer, Dies

Charles Harrison, an industrial designer who was the first Black executive for Sears, Roebuck & Company, died Nov. 29 in Santa Clarita, Calif., of a bacterial infection, his family announced. He was 87.

Credited with rethinking hundreds of ordinary items, including a plastic trash bin on wheels, a see-through measuring cup and the 3-D View-Master, Harrison refashioned products so that they could be mass-produced, pleasing to the eye and conducive to easier living.

Despite struggling with dyslexia, Harrison earned an associate degree and decided to pursue a career in industrial design. This decision took him in 1949 to Chicago, where he studied with Henry Glass at the School of the Art Institute and earned a BFA (1954). He later received a master’s degree (1963) in art education from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute of Design.

He was hired at Sears headquarters in Chicago in 1961, retiring in 1993 as the company’s chief product designer.

The product he was most closely associated with was the View-Master, which allowed users to look at photographs in three dimensions.

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