Mr. Harris' father had died from prostate cancer in 1975, and in 1998, he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer at age 47.

"I saw my Dad die. I saw him suffer, but he never talked about it," Mr. Harris said in an interview earlier last month with Promise & Progress, a publication of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. "Black men didn't talk about prostate cancer."

After receiving the diagnosis, Mr. Harris went to the Reno chapter of the American Cancer Society and began what he told The New York Times in a 2000 interview was "my crash course in Cancer 101."

"This was God's designation and I had to accept it to overcome it," he told The Times.

He made it his life's mission through talking to support groups, churches and larger venues to educate African-American men about their higher-than-average risk of contracting prostate cancer, more so if there is a family history of the disease. To accomplish this goal, he founded the Damon Harris Cancer Foundation.

He wanted to help them overcome the stigma of the disease, especially its sexual side effects, and attain the same openness regarding breast cancer.

In a recent interview with Alexis C. Jolly, a Los Angeles writer who is the online content editor for Stand Up and Cheer, Mr. Harris said, "This is not a matter for a particular age or demographic. It's a matter for people. Period."

The Owings Mills resident was still writing music and performing when his health allowed. He played the keyboard and had returned to the studio and recorded "You Are My Woman" last year.

"He loved to read and read from a plethora of various genres," said a daughter, Erica Outlaw of Pikesville. "And he loved talking about his days with the Temps."

A wake service for Mr. Harris will begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at Enon Baptist Church, 601 N. Schroeder St., with funeral services following at noon.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Harris is survived by two sons, Charles R. Harris III of Miami and Damon Harris of Owings Mills; three other daughters, Dana Harris of Baltimore, Toni Harris of Havre de Grace and Dominique Harris of New York City; a brother, Terry A. Harris of Baltimore; 14 grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com