Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Janet Ecki Russell (Harkness) 1924 - 2012

Janet was born 06 Aug 1924 to Orra Woodruff and Albert J. Russell.  Her birth certificate notes her mother's maiden name. The 1910 census lists Janets parents who are living with her grandparents.

In 1940 Janet is found living with her widowed mother, Orra at 10708 Ashton, Westwood, CA.  That's just 1.6 miles or a 6 minute walk to UES where she spent most of her life.  Janet went to school, student taught, taught and retired from UES.  That must be some kind of a record.

I worked with Janet Harkness for a number of years at the University Elementary School aka Corinne A. Seeds, University Elementary School in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  One of my memories was on a field trip to Vancouver BC.  Six teachers and 93 students were at LAX ready to board the plane which was late. What to do now? We put all the students on the floor and Janet sat in a little chair facing 93 students and told chocolate stories. (Made up stories that have chocolate as one element of the story.)  The 5th and 6th grade students sat spellbound.  They never even moved.  Afterwards I asked her how she was able to do such a fete.  She smiled and said she loved telling stories. The stories never had an ending and the rest of the trip students were begging for more chocolate stories.

Janet was a quiet, gifted teacher who organized school classes on many field trips to Arizona and gold country in California.  Jan Cohn and Karen Lee were often teamed with Janet and the three made things happen. I don't think any other school has taken such extensive, educational outings. 

At the end of the school year when people left or retired Janet wrote an ode to the staff member and artistically put it on a decorated poster for them to keep.  The odes were touching, funny and fit the person perfectly.  When she retired so did the odes.

Another thing I remember is she was always willing to trade yard duty for carpool duty.  Most of the staff disliked doing carpool because of the loud intercom and car exhaust and being tired at the end of the day.  Not Janet, she often took my carpool and I'd teach PE or watch students at noon.  She said she needed the time during the day for planning and working with individual students. 

UES was a difficult place to teach with 14k visitors a year and a staff that prided itself on excellence and hard work. She fit right in.  Janet was warm and friendly and I'm sure she was a positive influence on students in a hundred different ways.

Janet lived to be 88.  She died 11 years after her chef husband Don. I interviewed her in her later years and she was as alert and with it as ever.  There was no slowing her down.

It was a great honor to watch her teach. I consider her a good friend.  Kent Gardiner, 2014


Janet R. Harkness, 88, passed away on Oct. 26. Raised in Los Angeles, Janet attended UCLA, obtaining her master’s degree in education. She then returned to teach at U.E.S., the training and experimental school on the campus of UCLA for over 30 years. She loved Native American history and spent many years taking her students to reservations in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Canada.

After retiring she and her husband Don, a chef, traveled all over the country working in the restaurant industry. She moved to Arizona from Colonial Williamsburg in 2001, joining her great niece and family after the death of her husband. She continued to volunteer at Horizon Community Learning Center in Ahwatukee, quilt, weave on her traditional Indian loom, attend Bible study and participate in family activities until her passing.

Aunt Janet, as she was known, was loved by so many in the Foothills community and was survived by her nephew Jim, niece Carolyn, great nephew Dean, great niece Shanna, great grand nephew Colby, and great grand nieces, Samantha, Cameron and Faith. A memorial service took place on Nov. 1 at the Foothills Baptist Church in Ahwatukee.  Sunday, November 4, 2012 2:00 pm | Updated: 8:50 am, Mon Nov 5, 2012.

Name: Janet R Harkness
Address: 3830 Lakewood Pkwy E
City: Phoenix
State: Arizona
Zip Code: 85048-7385
Phone Number: 480-759-4192
Residence Years: 2002

3830 Lakewood Pkwy E, Phoenix AZ

Ahwatukee is a triangular shaped urban village of the City of Phoenix, Arizona bordered on the north by South Mountain Park and Guadalupe Road, on the east by Interstate 10 and the cities of Chandler, Guadalupe, and Tempe, and on the south and west by the Gila River Indian Community. It is the southernmost of the city's 15 urban villages. As of 2010, the 35.8 square-mile (92.7 km²) neighborhood has a population of 77,249.

Although annexed by the city of Phoenix between 1982 and 1987, before substantial residential growth, many of Ahwatukee's residents do not strongly associate their region with the rest of the city, due in part to its geographic isolation (South Mountain and South Mountain Park separate Ahwatukee from the other 14 urban villages of Phoenix, which lie to the north).

Typical neighborhood in Ahwatukee


When people retired Janet Harkness (lower left) would compose a poem or an ode to the person extolling their virtues and having a little fun.  Madeline Hunter is presenting the ode to a departing staff member. Exact date unknown but probably in the late 1970s.  The woman on the right could be Joan Maxwell.

LtoR Janet Harkness, Stan Davis the science teacher, ?, Cynthiana Brown, Vice Principal

Janet getting the kids attention on a field trip, date unknown.

 1910 census:

Albert J Russel
United States Census, 1920
Name: Albert J Russel
Event Type: Census
Event Year: 1920
Event Place: Los Angeles Assembly District 63, Los Angeles, California, United States
Gender: Male
Age: 38
Marital Status: Married
Race: White
Race (Original): White
Can Read: Yes
Can Write: Yes
Relationship to Head of Household: Head
Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Head
Birth Year (Estimated): 1882
Birthplace: Ohio
Father's Birthplace: Kentucky
Mother's Birthplace: Ohio

Janet graduated in the class of 1937.

1940 census: 

 Westwood, CA, Janet and her mother lived at 10708 Ashton (she owns the home).  No job is listed for Orra in the 1940 census.

Janet is living with her mother Orra who owns a very nice home, is 55, from Michigan and a widow.  They live 1.4 miles or a 6 minute walk to UES where she is attended until 1937 when she was 13.

California marriage index: Don and Janet were married May 1, 1964, when Janet was 40.

Cemetery: Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California, United States


Name: Janet E Russell
Event Type: Birth
Event Date: 06 Aug 1924
Event Place: Los Angeles, California, United States
Gender: Female
Mother's Name: Woodruff

Donald Harkness in the 1940 census:

Name: Donald Hudson Harkness
Birth Date: 7 Jul 1931
Phone Number: 799-4865
Address: 302 Patriot Ln, Williamsburg, VA, 23185-2059 (1995)
[306 Patriot Ln, Williamsburg, VA, 23185-2073 (1995)] 
[38 Indian Pipe, Painted Post, NY, 14870-8901] 

Name: Donald H Harkness
Birth Date: 7 Jul 1931
Phone Number: 572-1060
Address: 39 Golfview CT, Homosassa, FL, 34446-4272
[49 Douglas St, Homosassa Springs, FL, 32647] 
[1071 Candlelight Blvd Apt F90, Brooksville, FL, 34601-3141 (1993)] 
[39 Golfview CT, Homosassa, FL, 34446-4272 (1991)] 
[49 Douglas St, Homosassa Springs, FL, 34447 (1994)] 

Name: Donald H Harkness
Birth Date: 7 Jul 1931
Address: 9501 W Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV, 89117-5303 (1994)

Name: Donald H Harkness
Birth Date: 7 Jul 1931
Phone Number: 382-4525
Address: 9501 W Sahara Ave Apt 2229, Las Vegas, NV, 89117-5334 (1994)

Donald Hudson Harkness

March 14, 2001|Compiled by LORE MCDONALD and NORMAN TIPPENS Daily Press
WILLIAMSBURG — Donald H. Harkness, 69, died Tuesday, March 13, 2001.
He was born in Kanano, N.Y., to Charles and Myrtle Hudson Harkness. Mr. Harkness was a member of King of Glory Lutheran Church in which he was very active and also enjoyed music and had a love for gourmet cooking.
He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Janet Russell Harkness; his brother and wife, Charles and Mary Harkness of Leesburg, Fla.; a nephew, George Harkness; and a niece, Teresa Oberlin.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 17, from King of Glory Lutheran Church with Pastor Thomas Zehnder officiating. A time of fellowship will follow the service.
Flowers are appreciated or contributions may be made to King of Glory Lutheran Church, Kitchen Building Fund, 4897 Longhill Rd., Williamsburg, VA 23188.

Sensible Alternatives of Virginia is serving the Harkness family.

SS Death index:

Name: Donald H. Harkness
SSN: 075-24-2792
Last Residence:
23185 Williamsburg, James City, Virginia, USA
BORN: 7 Jul 1931
Died: 13 Mar 2001
State (Year) SSN issued: New York (Before 1951)