Marlina Boucher Harrison, longtime publicist, dies at 62

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Marlina Boucher Harrison adored words — in English and Spanish.

A longtime Santa Rosan, Harrison worked as a marketing specialist and publicist for the Sonoma County Fair and Harvest Fair, Santa Rosa’s Christmas tree lighting celebration and many other events and organizations.

She turned years ago to teaching children and adults both Spanish and English as a second language. “She loved that,” said her husband of 41 years, Kurt Harrison.

She also relished travel. Her husband recalled, “We were planning on going to Cuba before she was diagnosed.”

Marlina Harrison died May 12 after living a year with leukemia. The mother of two was 62.

“Marlina was one of the hardest working people I know,” said Jane Engdahl, who coordinates special events at the county fair and for about a decade prior to 2010 relished having Harrison handle publicity.

“She really knew how to do her job,” Engdahl said. “She cared about the fair, and I always appreciated that.”

Harrison also worked for a time for Carl Campbell at the former Campbell & Associates Advertising & Public Relations and she operated her own business, the former Creative Media Services. Her clients were nonprofits and businesses eager to enhance their visibility.

Campbell, now the public affairs director for Kaiser Permanente in Sonoma and Marin counties, said Harrison’s writing was key to a number of award-winning advertising and marketing campaigns.

“She was fun to be around, very creative,” Campbell said.

Having learned to speak Spanish as a child and loving the language, Harrison several years ago began teaching English to adults through Santa Rosa’s First United Methodist Church, then she taught Spanish to middle-school students in the Rincon Valley School District.

She was born to Marlin and Ann Boucher in Hemet on Aug. 26, 1955.

Her father was a career employee of Cal Fire, the state Department of Forestry Fire Protection, and from time to time was transferred.

The family lived in Corona and Sutter Creek before arriving in Santa Rosa in 1965. Several years later, Marlina Boucher was a junior at Montgomery High School unhappy to learn her dad had been assigned to Fort Bragg.

It was a cultural shock to move into a home located on State Highway 20 and not close to anything. “She was devastated,” Kurt Harrison said.

But she adjusted, and in 1973 graduated from Fort Bragg High School. She enrolled at Cal State Fullerton, but after about a year returned to Sonoma County.

She and Kurt Harrison, who’d met in Fort Bragg, married in 1977. Two years later, Marlina Harrison earned a degree in English from Sonoma State University. She subsequently was accepted into a business journalism fellowship program at the University of Denver.

When she wasn’t writing or teaching, she savored reading, camping and traveling.

In addition to her husband and her parents in Santa Rosa, Harrison is survived by her daughter, Anna, and her son, Jimmy, both of Santa Rosa; a sister, Gail Paoli of Eagle Point, Oregon; and two brothers, Jim Boucher of Santa Rosa and Victor Boucher of Prescott, Arizona.

Harrison’s family is making arrangements for a celebration of her life on Aug. 25, the day before her birthday, at the Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center.

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