Tom Harting, 85, attorney, Kutztown Folk Festival organizer

By on June 11, 2014

Thomas “Tom” E. Harting, Esquire, 85, of Lancaster County, died at home Saturday, June 7, 2014.

Born in Adamstown, a son of the late Phares G. Harting, Sr. and Sadie R. Glass Harting. He was the husband of Elizabeth Kieley Harting for 22 years.

Tom graduated from Shillington High School in 1947. He graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 1951. Tom graduated from Dickinson Law School in 1954. Along with having a private law practice, Tom served as a public defender in Lancaster County for 31 years. He felt that it was his civic duty to represent disadvantaged individuals. Tom was a member of the Lancaster County and Pennsylvania Bar Associations. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.

Tom’s life was marked by his investment in his community. In 1956, he ran as a Democratic Candidate for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the 2nd district of Lancaster County. To educate others about his Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, he served on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Folklife Society from 1964 to 1972, which holds the annual Kutztown Folk Festival (referred to as “the oldest folklife festival in America”). Many of the iconic features of Kutztown Folk Festival, such as the green chair stage and the quilting competition, were his contributions. He established the Lemon Street Fair in the city of Lancaster, the proceeds of which were used to renovate the entrance of the Lancaster Cemetery. He also built the Lemon Street Trolley for the event.

Tom loved hosting friends and family, and he was known for the creativity of his parties. He was the owner of Jenca Hills and restored the fire pit of the Jenca Indians. Known as the Ice Cream Man and Candy Man, he skillfully concocted a large variety of flavors of ice cream for celebrations and even made mystery flavors with a challenge to guess the flavors. He organized paddle tennis tournaments between Lancaster County Public Defenders and the District Attorneys Office and graciously allowed the prosecutors to win on occasion.

Tom was a great fan of the Franklin and Marshall Diplomats football team and frequently gifted season tickets to close friends and family. He loved model trains and constructed track to run along the walls and through the ceilings of his kitchen, dining room, living room, and pantry. His grandchildren will remember his trains, ten foot tall Christmas trees filled with ornaments, Easter egg hunts, and, of course, playing on the large Amish wagons that he gave to each grandchild.

Also surviving are his children: Jenifer Harting Brown, wife of Glenn, and their children Abigail, Nathaniel, and Hudson, of Charlotte, N.C.; Carla Harting and her daughter Esme, of San Diego, Calif.; Vanessa Harting and her daughter Ivyanna, of Hershey; and brothers: Rev. Robert Harting of Reinholds, Phares Harting, Jr., husband of Ann, of Lancaster, and Philip Harting, husband of Carolyn, of Adamstown; and numerous nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by two brothers: Carl and William Harting.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Wednesday, June 11 at 10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 119 S. Prince St., Lancaster. .

Memorial contributions may be made to Sisters of Mercy, 199 Lake St., Dallas, PA 18612, or online at

To send the family online condolences, visit Arrangements by Charles F. Snyder Funeral Home & Crematory, Lititz.

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