Franklin Ellis Harley ’59

The campus community mourns the passing of Franklin Ellis Harley ‘59, who died on Wednesday, Oct. 27. Ellis retired from Bucknell in 2000 after 36 years of service as associate vice president of finance.

Many of Ellis’ family members were graduates of Bucknell, including his wife, Jane ’60, P’86, ’94; his son Craig Harley M’94; his daughter, Sue Ann (Harley) Geisler ’86; his nephew, Eric Sutherland ’85, P’20; and his great-niece, Tace Sutherland ’20.

Included below is the complete text of the obituary, as provided by the family.

You are encouraged to visit our In Memoriam site to share personal notes of sympathy and remembrance with others.

On behalf of our entire University community, I extend our deepest sympathies to Ellis’ family, as well as to all who knew him at Bucknell.

John C. Bravman


Franklin Ellis Harley peacefully left this world on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, after a courageous battle with Parkinson’s disease. He leaves a legacy of loyalty and love for family and community and will be sorely missed.

Ellis was born in 1938 in Clearfield, Pa., the son of Fred and Naomi (Irwin) Harley. He excelled as a student and gifted athlete, earning him a scholarship to Bucknell University. A superb two-sport athlete, Ellis graduated as one of the most prolific scorers in Bison basketball history. He also starred as a shortstop on the baseball team, named the outstanding athlete in his senior class in 1959, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.

At Bucknell, he met his lifelong partner, Jane D. Sutherland (’60) and they were married in 1959. After fulfilling his ROTC training duties in the Army reserves, in 1965 Ellis returned to his alma mater where he became a well-respected administrator, serving the university until he retired as the Associate Vice President of Finance. Together, he and Jane were active lifelong members of the First Presbyterian Church of Lewisburg and were prolific members of the Lewisburg and Bucknell communities until Jane’s passing in 2018.

Along with athletics, Ellis had many interests and activities. He played the piano, taught his sons how to hunt, coached Little League baseball, served as a church trustee, and was asked to serve on many nonprofit and corporate boards including Mellon Bank, Buffalo Valley Telephone, and Evangelical Community Hospital, to name a few. Perhaps his favorite pursuit over the years, however, was his supporting role in the leadership of the Bucknell Golf Club, where his Bucknell affiliation, knowledge of finance, and love of the game combined to enhance and sustain the club’s quality, prosperity and future.

Loved by many, Ellis was one of those rare individuals who seemed “flawless” in the eyes of all those who knew him. Always the consummate gentleman, people were attracted to his quiet, cordial sagacity in everything he said or did.

Ellis is survived by two sons, Craig and Bill; daughter-in-law, Mi Ae; four grandchildren, Maddy, Janis, Alexa and John; and two sisters, Chloe Ann Mitchell of Mechanicsburg and Susan Harley of Wilmington, NC.

Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Jane; daughter, Sue Ann; and daughter-in-law, Becky.

After a private service and burial, friends are invited to join the family in remembering Ellis and his life between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, at the William D. Himmelreich Library, 18 Market St., Lewisburg (adjacent to the Presbyterian Church).

In lieu of flowers, donations would be gratefully accepted by either the Hospice of Evangelical Community Hospital or the William D. Himmelreich Library.

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