Ralph J Harkness

May 19, 1953 ~ November 2, 2021 (age 68)


Ralph J. Harkness, 68, was born in Gadsden, Alabama at Holy Name of Jesus Hospital on May 19, 1953 to Lula Pearl Jones and JH Harkness. He passed away peacefully at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, New Jersey surrounded by his family.

Ralph was brought to New Jersey as a child and lived in Newark, NJ where he ultimately graduated from Weequahic High School in 1971. In high school, he received outstanding recognition as a talented basball player who could pitch at 90 miles per hour. As a reult, he was awarded a full baseball scholarship to Langston University at Langston, Oklahoma where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology.

After he graduated from Langston University in 1975, he was awarded a prestigeous post- graduate scholarship to the University of Oklahoma’s Master of Science program in Urban Planning. A staunch advocate and supporter of education, Ralph’s value for higher education is evident in the success of his children, Seleena and Jessica, who are both college graduates and educators.

When Ralph returned to Newark in 1977, he worked for the Newark City Planning Department for several years where he met his wife, Eileen De Freece of Montclair, NJ. They married in 1979 and began to raise a family. Ralph truly loved and cherished his family.

An intelligent and resourceful person, Ralph pursued his interests in the 1980s as he began working for Exxon/Bayway Refining Company in Linden, NJ where he became Lead Pipefitter and a First Class Industrial Fireman trained to extinguish chemical and industrial fires.

After he retired from Exxon Company in 1997, he served as a long term Substitue Special Education Teacher at Camden Middle School in Newark, NJ for three years, a job that he truly enjoyed.

From May 2000 to 2010, he was hired by the Housing Authority of the City of Orange, NJ as a Senior Maintenance Supervisor in which he supervised a team of up to seven people in building maintenance, including fire safety, electrical work, carpentry, roofing, and other similar work.

After retirement, Ralph enjoyed sleeping in and watching sports on television in his Montclair home where he raised his family and lived most of his adult life.

Ralph was predeceased by his father, JH Harkness; he is survived by his mother, Lula Pearl Jones, brother Herbert Harkness (Portia). He is also survived by his children Seleena Marie Harkness-Lee (Adrian) and Jessica D. Harkness, nephew Malcolm-Luther Harkness and his former wife, Eileen De Freece as well as a host of other relatives and friends.

Ralph’s love of life and his generous spirit will be missed by all who knew him.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Ralph J Harkness, please visit our floral store.

Funeral Service


Memorial Service
November 6, 2021

6:00 PM
Martin s Home for Service (Montclair, New Jersey)

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