Charles Eric Harkness, 68, of Topeka, Kansas passed away Sunday, July 14, 2019.
He was born July 9, 1951 in San Bernardino, California, the son of Josephine (Barney) Harkness and Charles A. Harkness, III.
Eric earned a B.S. from the University of Illinois in 1973; in 1981, at the University of Kansas, he completed the requirements to become a Registered Pharmacist; in 1983 he earned a M.S. at K.U. in Computer Science. Later, he completed advanced Computer Science studies at City University of New York. He returned to Topeka in 1996 and became deeply involved in initiatives to support and improve mental health programs in Kansas, a cause to which he remained devoted for over 20 years.
Eric was an active contributor to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and served on the NAMI Kansas Board of Directors as a board member and as Board President from 2015 until his passing. In addition to his work with NAMI Kansas, Eric served on the NAMI State Presidents’ Council and Council President in the past year. Eric also served as the President of the Kansas Mental Health Coalition. Eric had been a board member of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas (DRC) and was the immediate past chair of the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness board, which is an advisory board to the DRC. Finally, he served as the vice-president of the Topeka Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
Eric is survived by his brother, Tom (Cynthia) Harkness of Woodstock, Illinois, and his sister, Megan Harkness-Madole of Woodbury, Minnesota and fiancé and best friend, Mindy Baccus. In addition, two nieces, EJ Harkness of Oakland, California, and Anna (Joe) Harkman of San Francisco, California.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
Private graveside services will be held at Rossville Cemetery.
In collaboration with NAMI Kansas, the family requests donations to the Eric Harkness NAMI Kansas Scholarship Fund. This Fund honors Eric’s memory and his passion to develop awareness concerning mental illness and to extend NAMI resources and services. The Fund supports scholarships to help others participate in NAMI Kansas events such as the NAMI Convention, the NAMI Kansas Annual Conference, and the Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Kansas Capitol. Donations can be made at https://namikansas.org/donate_now or at NAMI Kansas, P.O. Box 675, Topeka, KS 66601.
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