~ Joan Franklin Harper ~
Class of 1954




Joan Elizabeth (Franklin) Harper died on Monday, October 22, 2018 at age 81. She was surrounded by love from her family and her strong Catholic faith.

Joan was born November 6, 1936 in Hartford, CT, but grew up in Cromwell at the family home on Shadow Lane. Together with parents, John and Helen Franklin, and younger brother, Robert, she enjoyed a happy childhood within the community. She graduated valedictorian of Middletown High School and went on to Central Connecticut Teacher's College, later earning her Master's from Columbia University Graduate School of Education in NYC. This led to a fulfilling, lifelong career as a business educator.

Teaching in Bakersfield, California she met the love of her life on a Sierra Club outing. John Harper was a geologist and conservationist from Nebraska, and they soon married and had their two children, Susan and Richard. The family moved to Colorado and then to Arcata on the northern California coast where both Joan and John taught at Humboldt State University for 25 years. They enjoyed an excellent rapport with students, faculty, friends, and all the close-knit redwood forest community had to offer.

The Harpers retired as professors emeritus to San Luis Obispo on the central California coast and gained many more lasting friendships. In 2016, Joan moved to Bend, Oregon to be closer to family.

Joan was preceded in death by her infant sister, Mary Ellen, her parents, and her husband. She is survived by her brother, Robert (wife Anne) and family in New England; two children, Susan (husband Owen) in Oregon, and Rich (wife Julie) in Washington; one grandchild, Ian; two step-grandchildren, Morgan (husband Aaron) and Adrian; and one great-grandchild, Jack. She will be greatly missed by all whose heart has been touched by hers.

A celebration of Joan's life will take place in Arcata, California on December 6. A funeral Mass will be held at Arcata's St. Mary's Catholic Church on December 7, with burial to follow at St. Mary's Cemetery.


the Middletown Press - Nov. 10, 2018