Cover photo for Robert (Bob) Gaylord Harnwell's Obituary

Robert (Bob) Gaylord Harnwell

January 21, 1938 — March 9, 2022

Robert (Bob) Gaylord Harnwell

Robert (Bob) Gaylord Harnwell, teacher, sailor, and cabinet-maker, died at home surrounded by his family on Wednesday, March 9th in West Chester, Pennsylvania.  Bob was born in Princeton, New Jersey. He was the fourth child of Gaylord Probosco Harnwell and Mary Louise (Mollie) Rowland Harnwell.

After graduating from St.Andrews in Delaware Bob served in the US Army. In 1959, he married Mary Gillinder Masland. He also entered Swarthmore College, earned a bachelor’s degree and graduated in 1963 with two of his three children. They raised their family in Swarthmore. 

Bob joined the faculty at Friends Select School in Philadelphia, where he taught for nearly twenty years. He brought math to life for many students-challenging the brilliant and delighting in the successes of “math-phobes”. In 1972 he took a year’s Sabbatical and moved his family to Brunswick Maine to earn a master’s degree in Mathematics at Bowdoin College. Bob returned to Friends Select and went on to head the Math Department and then the Upper School. 

In 1983, Bob stepped away from education to apprentice as a cabinetmaker in New Hope, Pennsylvania.  He went on to design and build many gorgeous pieces of furniture. Bob also kept up his interests in sailing and gardening.

 In 1988, Bob married Sally Jo Gordon. Following his apprenticeship, they moved to Tanzania where they taught at The International School Of Tanzania.  After three years, when the opportunity to purchase a sailing catamaran and sail across the Atlantic arose, another of Bob’s dreams was met! A final position in Lima Peru and back to the states in West Chester where he lived until his death. 

Bob is survived by his wife, Sally Jo Gordon, two sisters, Mary Jane Wallace, and Ann Ashmead also by his children, Wendy (Carmel), Ann (Jim), and Ted (Patti), and six grandchildren, Dan, Natasha, Mike, Nikki, Sami, and Ben. Bob was predeceased by his parents and his brother, Frederick William (Teddy) Harnwell II.

A service celebrating Bob’s life will be held at the Central Philadelphia Monthly Meetinghouse 1515 Cherry Street on Saturday April 2 at 2pm. There will be a reception following at Friends Select School.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert (Bob) Gaylord Harnwell, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Starts at 2:00pm (Eastern time)

Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting

1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

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