Robert Warren Harris

Born: Tue., Oct. 10, 1950
Died: Fri., Oct. 16, 2020

Funeral Service

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Rev. Dr. Robert W. Harris, age 70, died Oct.16th after a long illness.  He had been a resident at Grandview Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Danville, PA since July 2020. 

He was born Oct. 10, 1950 to Ezra W. and Gladys (Betty) Harris of Bloomsburg RD5.  He graduated from Central Columbia High School in 1968, where he enjoyed basketball and baseball.  One of his most rewarding accomplishments was pitching a perfect game his senior year. He was a successful “leftie” pitcher throughout his younger years, including the time spent with the Baltimore Orioles farm club.

He furthered his education at Susquehanna University., Selinsgrove, followed by seminary training at Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago.  He received his Doctorate of Philosophy from University of Chicago.

Dr. Harris’ professional career began as a teacher at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, S. Carolina. He then relocated to Thiel University, PA to serve as campus chaplain.  He also pastored several Lutheran churches in western PA and was a professor for 15 years at Mercyhurst University. in the town of North East, PA.

Bob’s vocation might have been preaching and teaching but his passion was fly-fishing.  He was an instructor in Trout Unlimited and Federation of Fly Fishers, an avid artificial fly-tyer, and amassed an extensive fly-fishing library.

In addition to his parents, Robert was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Janeen (Jan) this past April.  He is survived by two sisters: Susan (Robert) Lupini of Dayton, OH and Eleanor (Dennis) Yeager of Mifflinville, PA, two step-children Thomas Carr of Monaca, PA and Rebecca Lapp of Deforest, WS,  mother-in-law Rosemary Gaston of Punxsutawney, PA and several nieces and nephews.

The family extends special thanks to Bob’s wonderful caregivers: Loren, Haley, Missy, Cierra, and Brittney.

Robert’s funeral care has been entrusted to the Richard L. Fait Funeral Home in Punxsutawney, PA.

Private interment services will be held in Punxsutawney, where Robert will be buried next to his wife.  A memorial service will be held at a later date at Hidlay Lutheran Church, Bloomsburg RD5.

Condolence messages can be left for the family on the website of Richard L. Fait funeral home at    

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Sr Michele Schroeck RSM
   Posted Tue October 20, 2020
RevHarris was a great professor at Mercyhurst North East. Sending my thoughts and prayers.

Donna Holder
   Posted Tue October 20, 2020
Bob was a fantastic person. He was lived by myself and others at St. Marks Lutheran Church in Waterford, Pa. He was always so jolly And added much to all activities. He was active in the choir and was their when my mother-in-law passed as well as my husband’s best friend. I’m sure he will be missed by his family. He meant a lot to me.

paul lee
   Posted Wed October 21, 2020
Bob was a fine person. I grew up next door to him in the Sundale Terrace development outside of Lightstreet, PA. I have fond memories of Bob as a kid growing up. Although I was 11 years younger, Bob occasionally picked me to play catcher for him when the other older kids in the neighborhood weren't available. I still have a baseball he gave me when he played in the Cape Cod League for the Baltimore Orioles. Dave Cash, who later played for the Pirates, was a teammate. Bob was also an avid fly fisherman and always spent time doing that on Fishing Creek nearby when he was home. He was always a very positive and uplifting person. I'm sure he will be missed by many people.

Barry & Debbie Nuhfer
   Posted Wed October 21, 2020
Our deepest sympathies. Bob was a very special friend to us. We worked together at Mercyhurst North East and had many great times with Jan and Bob. He was a great professor, man and friend. He will be missed greatly. Our prayers are with you.

Travis Lindahl
   Posted Wed October 21, 2020
One of the most interesting men I've ever met! Always had a unique opinion and I was happy to hear his many views on life. Thoughts and prayers for a peaceful eternity of fly fishing :)

DiAnn Bova
   Posted Wed October 21, 2020
I met Bob and Jan years ago at a craft show in Panama Rocks where they purchased a wreath from my booth and we began a wonderful friendship that spanned many years. We spent time with them at the Lutheran House in Chautauqua Institute as well as at their home. Such wonderful warm witty and caring people. As it turned out Jan and my husband passed away just days apart. I will always remember them fondly. What a beautiful obituary you wrote, and what a great person Bob was.

Christine Fisher
   Posted Wed October 21, 2020
I had the pleasure of working with and taking a class taught by Reverand Harris at Mercyhurst North East. I was assigned to take care of him during one of his hospitalizations several years ago. Even when dealing with his own health issues, he would lift me up with words of encouragement and flash that smile that made you feel reassured. My condolences to his family.

Alice Beishline
   Posted Thu October 22, 2020
We are so sorry for your loss ! Sending love and hugs to all of you. You are in our prayers.

Patricia Horne Beatini
   Posted Thu October 22, 2020
I am so sorry to hear of Bobby’s passing .I graduated with him at Central Columbia High School. He was always a very kind person and spoke to everyone. My sympathy and prayers are with his family .

Barry and Cathy Beck
   Posted Fri October 23, 2020
Our condolences to Bob's family. We know Bob from his love for fly fishing and the outdoors. I remember staying with my brother and sister-in-law in Lightstreet and Bob and his family lived at the end of the street. I remeber that I thought he was "cute", he was 16 and could drive! I was 14 or 15. Many years passed and we met again through fly fishing. He was a very kind, considerate person. We need more people like him in the world. We are glad that he is now pain free and in a much better place.

Carol & Ray Wakley
   Posted Fri October 23, 2020
Our sincere sympathy in the passing of an awesome Pastor. We have many wonderful memories of him and Jan at St. Peter's in North East. He was there for our family during my mom's sickness & performed her funeral service. A great man who will be missed by all who who were blessed to know him.

Keith Patterson
   Posted Mon October 26, 2020
Dr. Harris was one of my professors at Mercyhurst. We spent a lot of time chatting baseball and fishing! Was an amazing person to everyone he met!

Will Catalano
   Posted Mon October 26, 2020
One of the best lessons I ever learned was from Dr Harris at Mercyhurst North East. He told his class about his answer to the question of how, if he could choose, he would prefer to die. His answer to the question was both highly specific and patently ridiculous. The point being, that having an interesting and meaningful life was far more important. It is a concept I have kept in mind ever since, and will continue to do so for the rest of my own life. Godspeed Reverend.

Dr. John P. Smagner
   Posted Tue December 08, 2020
Something made me think of Pastor Harris today, so I searched his name and discovered he passed away only two months ago. I served as the organist of St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Waterford, PA when I was an undergraduate at Edinboro University back in the mid 90s. Sadly, I don't know if I ever made Pastor Harris fully aware of the impact he had on my life. I remember sharing with him before choir rehearsal one evening that I was considering both the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan for graduate school (this was before he told me he had obtained his PhD from the Divinity School at Chicago). Before I knew it, suddenly, and against my mother's wishes to have me stay closer to home, I was only applying to Chicago and mom and I were driving to Hyde Park to visit the school. Perhaps Pastor Harris would think my theology is bad, but I have always assumed a sort of divine intervention must have led me to him. That's because the application required a letter from a job supervisor and I had no other meaningful work history. And my application surely must have been strengthened by a recommendation letter from an alumni. My whole life was transformed by Pastor Harris and the kindness and support he showed to me. I certainly will never forget him.

Andy Ballentine
   Posted Thu December 31, 2020
I have learned of Bob’s death today, reading a death notice in the “Living Lutheran” magazine, and then googling to find out if it was the Bob Harris I knew in seminary. Bob was a senior when I was a first year student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. We bonded over baseball. He always included me in a group of pals when the Angels were in town, and he got tickets from his former high school classmate Paul Hartzell, then pitching for the Angels. I saw Bob briefly a few years later, at the Lutheran seminary in Columbia, SC, but fell out of touch in those pre-Internet days and since. From time to time, I would wonder how he was faring with his eyesight problems. I sure do recognize the Bob from 40 years ago described in the obituary and the condolences others have posted. I am glad that he blessed so many lives.

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