Arthur E. Harkness Sr., of East Canton, PA, won his struggle with death on October 31st, at the Bradford County Manor. Art expressed his desire to finish his sojourn on earth to family members several times over the past year. Four months ago, Art’s wife of 68 years, E. Marie (Metzger) Harkness, died unexpectedly, also at the Bradford County Manor. When Art was informed of Marie’s passing his response indicated his desire to leave this earth. When wheeled to her bed he was heard to say, “They got the wrong one.”
Art was born to Floyd W. and Louise Pierce Harkness on December 19, 1925. Art would say that in his family there were five boys and each one of the boys had four sisters. Art was preceded in death by all eight of his siblings: Willard, Marian, Harry, George, Eleanor, Dorothy, Donald, and Jane. He was also preceded in death by his brothers-in-law, Bruce Metzger, Bud Pepper, Tony Passamato, and Jimmy Moryan; sisters-in-law Hilda Harkness, Mary Harkness, and Eleanor Harkness. He is survived by brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Charles and Audrey Brackman, sisters-in-law: Shirley Harkness, Norma Nichols, Linda Pepper, and Viola Metzger.
Art is also survived by all his children: Arthur Jr., Ruby (Jim) Sosa, Clayton (Sally) Harkness, Cassi (Wim) Ney; all his grandchildren: Kyle (Rosie) Harkness, Zachary (Debbie) Harkness, Taylor (Brittney) Harkness, Sebastiaan Ney, Quinn (Brendan) Pancott; and all his great grandchildren: Hayden, Rory, Lincoln, Olivia, Ethan, Liam, and one on the way; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Art was always a hard worker. He began his farming career at age six and farmed the East Canton Family Farm until he retired. He had a strong desire to serve his country during WWII when he graduated from Canton High School in 1943, but his father and neighbor, T.M. Watts, requested an agricultural deferment for Art from the county draft board. The deferment was granted, and Art provided much-needed help on five or six neighboring farms. After the war in addition to farming, he hauled milk daily from the area farms to Williamsport. Depending on the time of year he would haul from 50-170 forty-quart milk cans a day.
Art served as president of the North Penn Milk Coop for a time, as well as a State Delegate for the Pennsylvania Farmers’ Association (PFA). If memory serves the family correctly, Art made at least one trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with senators to voice concerns on behalf of the dairy industry.
Art was a member of the East Canton Church since 1941. While he had held positions in the Building Committee and as a Trustee for the church, he always seemed more at home living out his faith in his actions toward others as a good neighbor and community member. Art was a man who had a knack for showing up and lending a helping hand whenever needed. Art was also a trustee of the East Canton Town Hall, and he gave his blessing to the move and reconstruction of the building on the Manley-Bohlayer Farm. He enjoyed local history and younger peoples’ interest in it. Recently he donated many artifacts to the LeRoy Heritage Museum.
Art and Marie sold the family farm to Clayton and Sally Harkness in December of 1986, and Art continued to work for his son and daughter-in-law until he was well into his eighty’s. He was very proud of Clayton, Sally, and grandson, Kyle for keeping the family farm going over all these years when farming has not been an easy way to make a living.
Clayton and Sally were generous employers and gave Art time off for traveling whenever he requested it. In his travels he made several trips out west visiting Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone National Park, as well as other notable places of interest including attending the Cheyenne Rodeo. In one year, he touched the Pacific Ocean while traveling with Arthur on the west coast and then the Atlantic Ocean on the east coast while visiting Jim and Ruby in Maine. He traveled to Canada to attend the Calgary Stampede and drove through the Rocky Mountains on both sides of the border. He also visited Davis Inlet, Labrador, Canada to complete maintenance on Ruby’s log house as well as help her fill her freezer with Arctic Char.
In retirement years, when not busy working in the barn or riding the tractor, Art could be found in the woods cutting fire wood or in his workshop creating the family’s latest request: a toy box, end tables, a case to display keep sakes, shelves, drying racks, benches, foot stools, toys, bird houses, and whatever Marie dreamed up for him to make. Come early spring he began tapping trees and hanging buckets. His grandchildren all have great stories of spending time with Grandpa in the sugar shack while he attended the boiling down of the sap to make his golden maple syrup. Of course, Art’s gardening ability supplied his family with plenty of fresh strawberries and garden peas, as well as any who cared to stop by his roadside stand and pick up excess cucumbers, zucchini, and summer squash. He grew a quarter of an acre of pumpkins and gourds for Marie’s fall decorating extravaganzas and his sweet corn rivaled Sechrist’s for the best in the valley.
Though Art’s family mourns his loss deeply, they were able to enjoy moments of mirth realizing that the trickster (prankster) in the family was leaving them on Halloween under a “blue” moon. At his passing his daughter in law, Sally, was heard to say: “Only once in a blue moon.” At one point during his final days, while Ruby was kneeling by his side, Art leaned over to her and said, “Boo.” One of the few words he had spoken that day.
Art will be missed not only by his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, but by his many nieces and nephews, long time neighbors and friends.
Tentative plans are presently being made to hold a Memorial Service for Art at the East Canton United Methodist Church on the afternoon of January 16th, 2021. Weather permitting, we will look forward to seeing you then and sharing many more memories and anecdotes of Art during his 94+ years of life on this earth. Lord only knows what he is up to now that he has crossed over into heaven.
Donations in memory of Art may be made to the LeRoy Heritage Museum or the Bradford County Manor Activities Department.
The family is being assisted with final arrangements for Mr. Harkness by the Pepper Funeral Home and Cremation Facility in Canton. Please share memories and condolences at the funeral home’s website at www.pepperfuneralhomes.com
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