Phil Harris, 'Deadliest Catch' Captain, Dies at 53

Harris: "Ya gotta be Twisted."
"I always thought about moving down where it's a little warmer," Capt. Phil Harris liked to say of his home in Snohomish County, "but I've been all over the country, and when it's nice out, this is the most beautiful place on Earth." From which yesterday the rowdy, chain-smoking captain quietly departed.

The prickly, tattooed, Seattle-based skipper and star of the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" TV series never recovered from the coma-inducing stroke he suffered while unloading his boat, F/V Cornelia Marie, in Alaska January 30. He was 53 and lived in Lake Stevens in the off-season. It was a comparably peaceful exit from a risky life on the stormy seas for most of three decades, lately joined by sons Josh and Jake.

Together they endured sub-freezing Alaskan temperatures, flying 700-pound crab pots, canyons of waves and a nearly 100 percent fishing-industry injury rate. As Harris writes on his MySpace page, "Ya gotta be a little bit Twisted to do this job." And more than a little bit ballsy, he once said:

"One thing I stay away from is anyone who tells me how tough they are--I let that go in one ear and out the other. I've had guys who were built like a brick house and told me how they were the quarterback on the college football team--the last guy crawled on his hands and knees across the wheelhouse floor with big tears in his eyes, saying he thought he was going to die and begging me to take him home."

In a statement, the Discovery Channel (where fans were chiming in), said Harris "was more than someone on our television screen. Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him. We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart."

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