Eleanor Cross Harrison

Date of Birth

August 22nd, 1933

Date of Death

July 3rd, 2015

Memorial Meeting

Orange County Friends Meeting


Eleanor Cross Harrison was born to Ruth Kennedy Cross and Fred Philson Cross on August 22, 1933 in Newark, Ohio, where she lived until her family moved to Phoenix, AZ when she was in high school. She died July 3, 2015 in Long Beach, California.

Onnie, as she was known to the Meeting, attended the University of Arizona, where she studied acting, joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority, played Laurie in the University production of Oklahoma! – and met her sweetheart, Richard Gary Harrison, a graduate of the Naval Academy, who was attending Flight School not too far away.

Gary drove 2.5 hours each day to take Eleanor out for coffee after rehearsals and performances.  When asked why he went to so much trouble, he replied, “Because if I didn’t, someone else would!”  They were married in March of 1954.  Son Rick joined the family in September of 1955 and daughter Melanie in August of 1959 – Gary was present for both births.

Onnie was a polymath, and over the years she studied a variety of subjects, but when she discovered anthropology she found her calling.  She did fieldwork in Nepal and was ABD from UCLA in cultural anthropology.  She loved teaching and spent 25 years educating anthropology students at Cal State University Long Beach and Long Beach City College.

The family spent time in  Arizona, Hawaii, San Francisco and Seattle, eventually settling in Santa Ana, where they  began attending Orange County Friends Meeting; Gary and Onnie became members in the 1974-75 membership year.  The family was very active in the Meeting for many years.  Onnie served on Ministry and Oversight and on the Library Committee, of which she was sometimes Clerk.  Most of all, she “Held the Meeting in Love and Light.”  During the final illness of one of our members in the late 1980s, Onnie developed a model of caring which we still use today – assigning a single-point-of-contact person to manage requests for and offers of help and to check regularly with the family.  She and other Friends started mid-week Meetings for Healing at that time, which we still institute today when they seem needed.

Onnie was dedicated to social justice.  She was involved in the African American civil rights movement in the 60s, the second-wave feminist movement in the 70s, and was instrumental in the creation of the Orange County Commission on the Status of Women.  She also nursed individuals suffering from Leprosy when the family lived in Hawaii, den-mothered a rowdy Cub Scout Troop – and occasionally rode a motorcycle.

Most of all, Onnie and her husband Gary were family people, and family always came first in their lives.  She is survived by her children, Rick Harrison and Melanie  Buckowski, and their spouses Terri and Dan, and 11 grandchildren: Rebecca, Joshua (Buckowski), Miriam, David, Jacob (Buckowski), Adolphus, Omaru,  Nathan, Abigail, Tikvah and Elisheva, and two great grandchildren, Anatel and Verity.