Remembering Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin was an incredible musician, a gifted storyteller and a committed activist for social justice who co-founded WhyHunger in 1975. Just a few years later, on July 16, 1981, Harry’s life was tragically cut short.

WhyHunger honors Harry every day by carrying forward his work to end hunger and build a just world. We invite you to use the simple form below to share your memories of Harry. We also invite you to help WhyHunger bring about Harry’s vision of a hunger-free world by joining Harry’s Giving Circle, a special group of monthly donors who know that together we can have a bigger impact!

Join the Giving Circle

  • Harry Chapin performs during Hungerthon in the 1970s.

    Photo credit: Diane Maple
  • Bill Ayres and Harry Chapin at WNEW FM for WhyHunger's annual Hungerthon broadcast.

    Photo credit: Diane Maple
  • Harry Chapin inspiring listeners and asking for donations during yet another Hungerthon.

    Photo credit: Diane Maple
Jen Chapin, Harry's Daughter
We gave him a hard time about being gone so much, but the fact is that Harry was an awesome dad. He loved to wrangle us all together for full family activities like bowling or ball games, but he also took the time to do individual projects with each of his five kids. For me it was the design and building of a beautiful dollhouse customized to my rag doll “Katie.”

Though not known for his culinary talents, my dad also had an infamous brunch creation known as “barnyard goulash” – consisting of random leftovers from the fridge folded into a dozen scrambled eggs. “You’ll love it!” he’d say, when we whined about that dish or some activity we preferred to skip, “I heard you talking in your sleep about it last night, ‘I wanna go bowling!’”

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Sue Leventhal, WhyHunger Staff
My friend Sheila and I went to see Harry and the band perform at Westbury Music Fair. We were on the line to hand in our tickets and find our seats. We were behind a fellow on a date with a young woman who didn’t know Harry – or his music. We overheard his description …”Well, he doesn’t really sing that well. He doesn’t really play guitar all that well either. But he’s AMAZING.” Harry was amazing. He was energy, passion, compassion …Funny, smart, engaged somehow with every single member of his audience.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Carl Lukens, Long-time WhyHunger Volunteer
A smile the size of Kansas
A heart the size of Texas
An unstoppable passion to give selflessly to improve any life he could
And a conscience larger than the world
Put them in a two-legged tornado...

You didn’t say “No” to Harry...
“There Only Was One Choice.”

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Bill Ayres, Co-Founder of WhyHunger
I recently listened to a series of radio interviews that I did with Harry from 1975 to 1980. I was touched by how passionate and articulate he was and how the message we were sharing way back then was much the same as we represent today. We talked then about the need to change the system, to make justice the focus in the Hunger Movement.

Harry was tireless, dynamic and unafraid to challenge authority. He used his position as a musician to raise millions and to reach millions. He never gave up even when Reagan was elected in 1980 and so much of the work we did on the Presidential Hunger Commission was cast aside. We had lost that battle but not the war against hunger. We made a commitment to spend the rest of our lives fighting hunger, poverty and injustice. He certainly kept his part of the bargain, joyfully, energetically and non- stop until the end of his too short life.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016