Eugene Harsh ’54
Looking back, Eugene Harsh ’54 sees a life well lived—in a number of places, in a variety of careers, and with an amazing partner.
A native of Intercourse, Pa., Harsh attended F&M “because of its great reputation.” He met his late wife, Lois, a native of Paradise, Pa., at church—and dedicates his philanthropy to F&M, including an endowed scholarship, to her memory.
Harsh majored in education with certification in math and physical sciences with plans to become a high school teacher. He participated in Air Force ROTC and was commissioned as a second lieutenant upon graduation. After teaching science for a year at Pottsville High School, he went on active duty at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.
In 1956, the Air Force sent him to The Pennsylvania State University for a second bachelor’s degree, this one in meteorology, so he would be qualified to serve as a weather officer. That led to a year in Keflavik, Iceland, and then an assignment to Niagara Falls Air Force Base. He returned to Penn State and earned a master’s degree in meteorology, followed by assignments to Colorado, Alabama, Mississippi, Nebraska and the Philippines.
“After satellites began being launched, we became very interested in the near-space environment,” he recalls. “The Air Force and Department of Defense were interested in ‘space forecasting’—we needed to monitor the sun 24 hours every day, to watch for solar flares that affect communications, detection systems and satellites.”
Throughout his journey, Lois, a music teacher, was by his side. “Every place we traveled,” he says, “she was involved in music in some way, especially with church choirs.” A Penn State graduate in music education, she taught in the Penn Manor School District in Lancaster County and in North Tonawanda, N.Y.
The couple had two sons. Their older son, Douglas, his wife, Connie, and their six-month old baby, Tyler, were killed in April 1995 in an accident in Lancaster. Their younger son, Jeffrey, resides in Colorado.
Harsh retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1979 and went to work for a government contractor as a systems engineer and project manager for 31 years. He remains active in his church and continues his lifelong learning by taking online college-level classes from The Great Courses. He supports F&M through generous annual gifts and, recently, through his endowed scholarship fund. He gives because he wants others to have the same opportunities he had.
“I didn’t come from a wealthy family,” he says. “I feel that F&M played a large part in my career; my education there enabled me to move on to professional success. I’m convinced Franklin & Marshall is on the right track, and I respect how hard the students work.”
He also gives to honor, and in deep appreciation of, Lois, his wife of 57 years. “All my giving is in memory of my wife,” he says. “She was my inspiration.”
To learn how to craft your own legacy gift to F&M, contact Mary Ann M. Cooke, J.D., ’90, Director of Gift Planning, at 717-358-4821 or firstname.lastname@example.org.