Eleanor Cross Harrison

Harrison—Eleanor Cross Harrison, 81, on July 3, 2015, in Long Beach, Calif. Onnie was born on August 22, 1933, in Newark, Ohio, to Ruth Kennedy and Fred Philson Cross. Her family moved to Phoenix, Ariz., when she was in high school. She studied acting at the University of Arizona, where she joined Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, played Laurey in the university production of Oklahoma!, and met her future husband, Richard Gary Harrison, a graduate of the Naval Academy attending flight school. Every day he drove two-and-a-half hours to take her 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 married in 1954, and he was present for the births of their son and daughter.

They spent time in Arizona, Hawaii, San Francisco, and Seattle, eventually settling in Santa Ana, Calif., where they began attending Orange County Meeting in Irvine, Calif., becoming members in the mid-1970s. She served on Ministry and Oversight and on the Library Committee, sometimes clerking. During the final illness of a Friend in the late 1980s, Onnie developed a caring model that Orange County Meeting still uses 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, and the meeting still uses them as needed.

She was a polymath, but when she discovered anthropology, she found her calling, doing fieldwork in Nepal and studying for her doctorate in cultural anthropology at UCLA, completing all but her dissertation. She loved teaching and spent 25 years at California State University Long Beach and Long Beach City College.

Family always came first in her life, but she was active in the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s, the second-wave feminist movement in the ’70s, and the Orange County Commission on the Status of Women. She had also nursed individuals suffering from leprosy when the family lived in Hawaii, den-mothered a rowdy Cub Scout Pack, and occasionally ridden a motorcycle. Onnie is survived by two children, Rick Harrison (Terri) and Melanie Buckowski (Dan); 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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