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Obit: Harry Stamper NW Labor Activist (1944-2012)

10 Mar 12 - 05:05 PM (#3321050)
Subject: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist
From: Mark Ross

It is my sad duty to say that Harry Stamper, longshoreman, labor activist and songwriter passed away last night at his home in Coos Bay, Oregon. Harry's best known song was " We Just Came To Work Here, We Didn't Come To Die", recorded by Citizen's Band and Anne Feeney, among others. Harry was writing songs to the very end, his wife told me. Here's a link to his last song;


He will be missed.

Mark Ross

10 Mar 12 - 06:20 PM (#3321067)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist
From: Genie

Very sad news.

Nathan Moore, of the Eugene, Oregon group "Low Tide Drifters," posted this in tribute to his good friend and colleague:
Harry Stamper: "Looking Back Eyes" from the album "Looking Back At Me."

10 Mar 12 - 06:28 PM (#3321073)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper, NW folk musician
From: Genie

Nathan also posted a link to this YouTube:

"Harry Stamper, ILWU Songwriter
"A short film about songwriter Harry Stamper, a retired longshoreman who was active for many years in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Harry lives in Coos Bay, Oregon, and his songs are well-known within the labor movement and Pacific Northwest folk music circles."

10 Mar 12 - 06:39 PM (#3321077)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist
From: Genie

And here's an interview with Harry in 1961, with excerpts of Harry singing "We Just Come To Work Here (We Don't Come To Die)" and a tribute to "Harry Bridges."

10 Mar 12 - 07:13 PM (#3321093)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist
From: Stewart

That's very sad to hear. Harry wrote some great songs -
some are on the PNW Folklore Society website
He was very generous and freely gave his songs to me and others.
I will miss him.

S. in Seattle

10 Mar 12 - 07:28 PM (#3321099)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist
From: GUEST,999

Likely a coincidence, but in the movie Armageddon, the main protagonist was named Harry Stamper.

I am sorry for your loss, Mark, and for the loss to unionism and music.

10 Mar 12 - 07:33 PM (#3321100)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist
From: Stewart

And here's an article A VISIT WITH HARRY STAMPER -
ILWU Labor Activist, songwriter, Musician

written by Nathan Moore for the PNW Folklore Society

S. in Seattle

10 Mar 12 - 08:24 PM (#3321113)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist
From: katlaughing

I love that song. What a great person. So sad to hear of his passing. We need more voices like his to save this poor ol' country.



10 Mar 12 - 08:31 PM (#3321115)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist 9 March 2012
From: katlaughing

The second song, Looking Back Eyes, made me cry. What a fantastic songwriter and performer.

11 Mar 12 - 01:30 AM (#3321172)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist 9 March 2012

Harry was one in a million. I enjoyed a visit with he and Holly one Memorial Day weekend. We were talking on the phone and I said just how far is it to Coos Bay.   Next thing I knew Jimmy K. and I were on our way to Coos Bay. We had the greatest of times, singing, laughing and talking union!!!

My deepest sympathy to Holly and the family. Rest in Peace Harry - Solidarity Forever.

Patty Cramer

11 Mar 12 - 05:56 PM (#3321440)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist 9 March 2012
From: GUEST,Grace Cox

We first met Harry at a Labor Heritage Festival in Gold Bar, Washington. We became friends and comrades, and enjoyed each other's company and music on many occasions. If there is an afterlife, I'm sure Harry's up there rabble rousing and organizing. Here's to ya, Harry!

11 Mar 12 - 06:13 PM (#3321451)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist 9 March 2012
From: Mark Ross

Grace, I tried to call you yesterday with the news, but the message said your phone was temporarily disconnected.

Mark Ross

12 Mar 12 - 02:22 AM (#3321600)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist 9 March 2012
From: GUEST,Nathan Moore

Hey Everyone:

My wife Kate has set up a blog called "Remember Harry" where you can leave messages for Harry's family, post memories, thoughts, or tributes. The blog is at:

13 Mar 12 - 12:22 PM (#3322303)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist 9 March 2012
From: Mark Ross

Here's Harry's obituary

Harry Stamper: Folksinger

"The woods are full of wannabe, would­be, and hope­to­be songwriters who write songs that will never
be sung because they are no good. I wasn't holding my breath while I waited for Harry Stamper's
cassette. When it arrived and I got around to listening to it, however, I was blown over. Stamper was
good, very good." J Glazer (p261, Labor's Troubador, 2001)

On Friday, March 9th, 2012 folksinger Harry Stamper passed away at his home in Charleston, Oregon. Harry Stanford Stamper, Jr. was born September 20th, 1944 to
Harry and Viola Stamper in Roanoke, Virginia. Harry wrote prolifically on a range of subjects, although he was best known for his labor songs and his work with the ILWU, his union for 37 years. His song, "We Just Come to Work Here, We Don't Come to Die" is considered a classic in labor and folk song circles. The song is
featured on Classic Labor Songs from Smithsonian Folkways and on the album We Just Come to Work Here, We Don't Come to Die: Songs of Health and Safety. Harry's music has been recorded and performed by a wide array of musicians including Anne Feeney, Citizen's Band and General Strike. Stamper's lyrics were featured in Sing Out!

Harry wrote on every subject: The last song he recorded, "God, Guns and Gays" is a perfect example of his political work—no topic is off limits. But Harry had an introspective side (what he called, "self‐probing, old bat ramblings"), as we see in "Song for Cynthia." Harry wrote, "It begins when you discover what you might like to be and it ends when you find out what you are." Here's what Harry had to say
about himself: "I don't consider myself a labor singer, but I think I have written some powerful labor songs. Others have referred to me as a labor songwriter, but I prefer folksinger." Harry was generous with his songs. He was constantly sending CDs in the mail to anyone interested in his music at no charge. Harry said, "Do as you will with my songs. Copy, share change. It's the folk process at work."

Harry was perhaps at his most joyful in the songs he wrote for his grandchildren, like "Rockin' Spider," a rock'n'roll version of the "Itsy Bitsy Spider." Stamper also authored a children's book called, "Kevin Helps the Music Out" for his grandchildren and wrote numerous short stories about life on the docks in Coos Bay. His song,
"Harry Bridges," celebrated the life of the ILWU's famous founder and was one of Bridges' favorite songs in his last years.   Stamper played at Bridges' memorial held at Local 10 in San Francisco. Harry also performed at Pete Seeger's Clearwater Revival Folk Festival in New York with Arlo Guthrie and Sweet Honey in the Rock in the early 1980s.

Harry loved his family: his smart, capable wife Holly Hall Stamper, his daughters, Nell Stamper Ero and Anna Stamper Brown and his grandchildren, Kevin, Stephen and Jack.   His siblings: Patricia Howard, Tom Stamper, Cynthia Turner, Diane Stamper, and Richard Stamper. His sons‐in‐law, Trevor Clark Brown and Phil Ero.
Harry loved, and is survived by, his mother Viola. He loved his dogs: Roodie, Lilly and Maple. All the cats. Harry loved to feed the fish, birds, Douglas squirrels and other creatures in his back yard. And he loved his union.   

Harry began playing music when he was 13 and he wrote and recorded music until the end of his life at 67. He said: "I'm proud of the songs that work and delight in following the muse that suggests a topic or direction. My idea is to create something useful, fun and just as relevant down the road."   But most importantly: "Stay cool
and always remember to staple your picket sign to a baseball bat."

By Nathan Moore and Kate Downing

Please feel free to contribute memories, photos or comments about Harry at;

Harry's family has suggested that donations in his memory be made to the ILWU Auxiliary Fund:   
2064 Sherman Ave., North Bend, OR 97459 or the Waterfall Clinic: 1890 Waite St, North Bend 97459.

A musical tribute in Harry's honor will be held at the ILWU Local 12 Hiring Hall, 2064 Sherman Ave., North Bend, Oregon on Saturday, March 17th at 2 p.m. The family wishes to make it a party that Harry would have liked to attend. Holly says, "We want to pack the house." So
come on prepared to play, sing and/or tell stories and celebrate a life well lived.

14 Mar 12 - 03:54 AM (#3322586)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist 9 March 2012
From: Bob the Postman

Me and my friend Earl sang "We Just Come To Work Here" at the Killed and Injured Workers Memorial ceremony in our small town last year. We didn't do a heck of a good job, but I sent an mp3 of it to Harry anyway. He said he got a kick out of it and sent me a CD of some of his songs.

In my email to Harry I had referred to Earl as a local shit disturber. "Shit disturbers are my kind of people," Harry replied. In my mind, that's his epitaph.

RIP, Brother Shit Disturber.

12 Jun 17 - 01:36 AM (#3860407)
Subject: RE: Obit: Harry Stamper Labor Activist 9 March 2012
From: GUEST,harry avis

I have to say that I'm completely amazed how famous Stan became! We attended College of Marin when we first met in the early sixties. We became instant best friends. He was the shittiest guitar player in the world! I struggled to teach him flat picking and we would spend hours on my deck in Woodacre, Cal., drinking the cheapest red wine we could find and play and sing together. I later lived with him and Judy(Grossenbacker) in Ashland,Or.. We played for beer and pizza at high end venues around town. We both eventually drifted back to the Bay Area around '65 or '66. I served in the MSTS in Vietnam and Stan became a longshoreman. I got married after 'Nam and Stan was my best man! My bride-to-be cried because Stan had such long hair. I was so pissed off at Stan because he cut his hair for the wedding?! Anyway, he will always be Stan to me(and his Dad) because I am Harry. thanks for listening...