Raymond Dell Harford Jr.
PVT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co B, 4th Platoon
Born 1920 in NJ, Died 2000
County of residence at enlistment: Bergen County, NJ
Other residence(s): New York, NY; Rochester, NY; Penfield, NY; Pittsford, NY; recently in Teaneck, NJ
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: commercial artists
College education before the war: Pratt 3 years
Ray Harford was born on July 21, 1920 in West New York, NJ, the older of two brothers. He attended Pratt Institute in New York City, where he became good friends with fellow illustration students Bob Boyajian, Vic Dowd, and Ken Bald; they referred to themselves as the Four Musketeers. They socialized together, and two of them ended up marrying women they dated while at Pratt, including Ray. He married Edith Taylor in 1942, and Bob Boyajian was best man at the wedding.
Vic Dowd says that Ray was the quiet one of the group. "He smoked a pipe. . . . looked very English. He came from a nice, refined family. We visited each other's homes, and got to know each other's parents."
The Four Musketeers graduated from Pratt with certificates in illustration in June, 1941, and went to work, along with several other classmates, at Jack Binder's studio. Jack had 50 artists working for him, drawing comics for Fawcett Comics, Nedor Comics, and Lev Gleason Publications. He'd started in a Fifth Avenue loft in Manhattan, but eventually moved his crew to the loft of a barn in Englewood, NJ which became known as "Binder Barn."
Ray drew Captain Marvel strips in 1942, and Mary Marvel strips throughout the 1940s (except for his time overseas). Among his creations at "Binder Barn" was an original illustration of General Douglas MacArthur for the 1942 cover of Whiz Comics.
When Ray filled out his draft registration in February, 1942, he said that he was working for Fawcett Publications in NY. When he enlisted, on October 9, 1942, he became a member of the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion, along with two of the other three Musketeers—Boyajian and Dowd.
While Ray was in the Army, Edith moved to Rochester, NY, where her parents lived. So when he returned after the war, Ray moved to Rochester as well.
Ray and Edith had two sons—Jay and Stephen. The family lived at different times in Penfield and Pittsford, Rochester suburbs. Edith died young, in 1984, and Ray married again, but his second wife, Dorothy, died in 1989.
Ray continued to draw comic strips throughout the 1940s, but used his gift for figure drawing to make the transition to retail fashion illustration. He made a living as a freelance illustrator throughout his career, and continued to paint as a hobby, showing his watercolors in several galleries in Honeoye Falls and Pittsford in the 1990s. He was also part of a group of artists in the Rochester area who had met once a week since the 1940s to talk about art. They were still meeting in 1997, when an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle profiled the artists, who styled themselves "The Manhattan Group," and who were setting up their first group art exhibit.
He was also a member of the Midtown Tennis Club, the Penfield Art Association, and the Pittsford Art Group.
Ray Harford died on May 22, 2000 and is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Penfield, NY.
NOTE ABOUT HIS FAMILY: Artistic skills run deep in the Harford clan. Ray's brother, Robert, also worked as a commercial illustrator. Ray's son, Stephen, is a furniture designer, and Stephen's daughters, Sarah and Lindsay, are both artists—working in prints, drawings, paintings, graphics, and sculpture. An exhibit representing ALL of them, and entitled Pass It On, was mounted at Artspace in Norwich, CT in 2002.
1941 Article in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle re his graduation from Pratt
1942 Draft Registration
1942 New Jersey Marriage Index
1942 Enlistment Record
1997 article in Rochester NY Democrat and Chronicle re his art career
2000 Social Security Death Index
2000 Find a Grave Record
2000 Obituary from Rochester NY Democrat and Chronicle
2002 in Binghamton NY Press and Sun-Bulletin About His Artistic Career and Legacy
Article entitled "Fawcett Artist RAY HARFORD and The Ghost Army, Part 1--From Binder Barn to Battle," by P. C. Hamerlinck (see pp. 20-22 at this link for a preview)
Who's Who of American Comic Books