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IREM remembers Ron Harris, CPM®

Honoring the legacy of a pillar of IREM

By Journal of Property Management
Ron Harris, CPM®, supervised the construction of 4 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.
Ron Harris, CPM®, supervised the construction of 4 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.

Ronald Allen Harris, CPM®, remembered as a principled advocate for IREM during his time as president in 1985, passed away in February at 89 years old.

Ron was born on Oct. 13, 1932, in Peoria, Illinois. He was the only child of Melbourne Harris, a former rabbi at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco, and Leora Davis Harris of Toledo, Ohio. Ron grew up in Cleveland and Toledo, attending DeVilbiss High School in Toledo before enrolling at Stanford University, where he obtained a B.A. in Economics. At Stanford, Ron fell in love with Lainie Cohen, whom he married in 1954. Lainie is remembered as an elegant and charming first lady and someone who shared many passions with Ron, including art and travel.

To honor Ron, consider donating to the U.C. San Francisco Cardiology Support Fund at PO Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 94145-0339.
Ron started in the real estate business in Ohio at the company established by his grandfather, the Sam Davis Company. Ron and Lainie returned to California in 1964 with their three kids in tow. The family first lived in Mill Valley before moving to San Francisco, where Ron continued his real estate and property management career at the Dillingham Corporation. At Dillingham, Ron supervised the construction of the Wells Fargo building at 44 Montgomery Street in San Francisco, which at the time of its completion in 1967 was the tallest building west of Dallas.

Following his tenure at Dillingham, Ron set out on his own and established a series of partnership businesses to buy, sell, develop, and manage real estate. During his tenure at the top of IREM, Ron was president of Ronald A. Harris Associates, a real estate consulting firm, and a partner in Cynalar Management Company, a full-service property management firm active in the San Francisco Bay area and neighboring communities.

“Ron was practical, a really good property manager,” says Tan Tek Lum, CPM®, who served as IREM president three years before Ron and shared Stanford as an alma mater, something they connected over. E. Robert “Bob” Miller, CPM®, who served as IREM president in 1980, remembers Ron as a conscientious property manager well-known in San Francisco for his management skills.

IREM colleagues also recall that Ron was passionate about IREM education, helping to bring the computer revolution that was in full swing during his presidency to the education department. “We brought in Apple computers for IREM HQ in 1982 during my presidency, and Ron helped expand desktop computers to IREM’s education offerings,” says Lum.

Ron was an IREM instructor who helped develop new courses and restructure existing ones. Penny Tourangeau, CPM®, recalls with a laugh a story from Ron’s time as the chair of the main education committee. Ron warmly welcomed her as the first woman to serve on the committee. “We shared a laugh when I showed up to our first meeting in a necktie,” says Tourangeau. “The instructions I received for serving on the committee said ties were required for meetings, so I just borrowed one from a friend!” Miller adds that including more IREM volunteer women was a central goal that leadership shared in that era.

During Ron’s term as president, IREM celebrated the tenth anniversary of the AMO program, created a new international affiliation program, and strengthened communications with IREM chapters. Ron also served IREM as its secretary/treasurer in 1983 and, before that, as a senior vice president and governing councilor. Ron was also an active member and past president of the IREM San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.

“Ron was a man of convictions,” says Lum. “His point of view was very well-thought-out, and he was a good leader. IREM did well with him at the helm.”

Ron continued to work as a real estate consultant up until 2020. His life will be celebrated at a memorial service in September.

Journal of Property Management

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