Harlan Ellis passed away peacefully on November 27, 2021.
He was very loved by family, friends and the community.
He was part of the “Greatest Generation” that fought in the world was the second. He served in the US Navy in the Atlantic as an officer aboard the USS Courage. Its mission was to escort convoys of ships providing food and supplies to the Allied forces in Europe.
At the end of the war, he attended the University of California, Berkeley, from which he graduated in 1948. He began his medical practice in the Los Angeles area in 1952 after receiving his medical degree from the California College of Orthopedic Physicians and Surgeons.
After reading Dr. Grantley Dick Reed’s book “Birth Without Fear” he changed the way he delivered babies and by 1955 had instituted a natural birth program for his patients. By 1958, he was regularly involving husbands in training and helping them attend during labor and delivery.
In 1961 he was awarded a special grant for research on the topic: “What are the potentials of a newborn?” The study included all factors from pregnancy to the age of nine months.
In 1962 he received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of California, Irvine. In 1963 he was board certified in California in Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 1965 he was accepted as a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. From 1958 to 1968 he taught at Los County Hospital in the areas of anesthesia, caesarean section and vaginal breech delivery. At the same time he was an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of California, Irvine.
During these years, Harlan received recognition from all over the country for his unique approach to childbirth.
In 1965 he made national news while speaking at the University of Southern California. He was quoted as saying that willing couples can actually make labor shorter and childbirth easier. He noted that a family-centered maternity hospital that provides psychological preparations for childbirth may reduce infant mortality in the United States.
In 1968 he moved to Visalia with his wife Betty (deceased), their five children and 4 adult Danes.
Here he continued the natural childbirth practice he had started in Los Angeles. He created a unique birthing center that enhanced the education of the expecting couple including the father in the delivery room. It was the beginning of natural childbirth in the San Joaquin Valley, the birth and bonding of the newborn, and the focus on breastfeeding.
For the remainder of his career, Dr. Ellis continued to practice the natural birth approach stressing the value of: (1) educating parents, (2) providing specially trained labor coaches to work with each working couple and nursing staff, and (3) the newborn/mother bonding importance in Prevent aggression and violence in our society.
In 1969 Mira Rondo arrived from Poland as an exchange student and soon became part of the family. Harlan became her American father.
In 1972 he became co-editor of the third, fourth, and fifth editions of Birth Without Fear.
In 1979, Harlan’s son, Bob, and friend, Jamie Hessler, decide to set up Jamie’s mother, Joanne Heisler, with Harlan on a blind date! It was the success that led to their marriage. Joanne passed away in 2005.
Before retiring in 1996, Bob obtained his medical license from Wyoming to relieve his son, Dr. Robert Ellis OB, in Powell, Wyoming, when Bob needed to take time off.
Harlan had many and varied hobbies, including surfing and snowboarding, collecting antique puzzles, having a show and presentation at the Fresno Museum, tennis, table tennis, games of all kinds, and magic shows. He was especially pleased to perform magic shows for children.
Harlan’s love for the bridge led him to Marcy Buford. Thanks to (the scheme) he poured ice water on her which led to their first date. They married on February 2, 2009 (Groundhog Day when he told her about the way out of church). They have enjoyed many good times together, including Harlan achieving ACBL Life Master (Bridge), lots of travel, and the joy of dinner with their joint family.
He leaves behind a large and loving family. At his last count, he had 15 children and so many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren that they can’t be counted here.
The funeral service will take place at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 608 N. Church St. Visalia on January 15, 2022 at 12 noon.
A celebration of life will follow at Visalia Country Club, 625 N. Ranch St. Visalia at about 1 o’clock; 30 pm.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to your favorite charity. or a building box either: Gateway Church, 1100 S. Sowell St. Visalia or St. Charles Borromeo Church, 506 N Garden St Visalia.
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