O. Harold Mainer of Fort Smith, Ark., passed away on Aug. 16, at Heart of Hospice in Fort Smith, a few days shy of his 99th birthday. A coal miner’s son, he was born to the late Clarence and Ruby (Core) Mainer on Aug. 22, 1921, in Paris, Ark. Harold loved his family and his family loved him. He was affectionately known as “Pa” to his grandchildren and great- grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Ella (Hickman) Mainer, and the mother of his three children, Sue (Spain) Mainer. He was the last survivor of the family’s four children, which included a brother, Youeal Mainer and two sisters, Tennie Brown and Catherine Pressley. He was a faithful member of Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Caulksville, Ark. and a Mason for over 60 years. He was a WWII Navy Veteran and a Pearl Harbor survivor. It is thought that he may have been the last living Pearl Harbor survivor in the State of Arkansas.
Harold came from the age of the Great Depression and experienced many hardships in his early life. From a young age, he learned to be a survivor. He had to help raise his siblings when his mother contracted tuberculosis. He worked in the depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps at Cass in Franklin Co. until he enlisted in the US Navy on Oct. 20, 1940 at the age of nineteen. He was assigned to the warship cruiser USS Helena CL-50, which was stationed at Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 7, 1941, he witnessed first-hand the bombing taking place on this day of infamy. Harold recounts, “I was standing at the fantail of the Helena on the morning of the attack, about to go ashore to celebrate a shipmate’s birthday when the Japanese bombs hit. I sprang into action and did the best I could to stay alive. You didn’t have time to be scared.” The Helena took a torpedo hit, but luckily was in shallow water and didn’t sink deep. Harold witnessed the capsizing of the USS Oklahoma, and the sinking of the USS Arizona across the harbor. The Helena was taken to the ship yard for repairs and within two months was back in action, participating in several battles in the Pacific Theatre. Helena’s demise came from three torpedo strikes, with the ultimate sinking of the ship on July 6, 1943 in Kula Gulf. Harold was then assigned to the ocean tug USS Munsee ATF 107 until the end of the war. The Munsee patrolled Tokyo Bay on the day of the Japanese surrender.
Harold received an honorable discharge from the Navy on Jan. 17, 1947. After the war, he worked as a mail carrier for the US Postal Service, retiring in 1983 after 32 years of service. Not one to remain idle, Harold kept busy with his hobbies of “antiquing” and attending the Patterson Auctions. When he finally decided to “take it easy”, he took up sewing and became known for his unique quilt tops, pillows and aprons.
Funeral service were held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20, at Brotherton Brothers Funeral Home Chapel in Charleston, with the Rev. Bill Van Meter officiating. Burial, with Military Honors, at Garden of Memories Cemetery in Charleston, under the direction of Brotherton Brothers Funeral Home and Flower Shop in Charleston.
He is survived by his son, Mark (Becky) Mainer of Fort Smith, Ark.; daughters Gayla (Larry) Holloway of Archer City, and Sandra (Lee) Dobson of Van Buren, Ark., four grandchildren and seven great- grandchildren.
Pallbearers were Blake Cook, Hugh Hardgrave, Matthew Sides, Tim Mounts, Charles Konzelman, Alex Konzelman, Jacob Larsen, Spencer Larsen.
Public viewing was Wednesday, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the funeral home.
He may be gone from our reach but will never be forgotten by his loving family and friends. Most of all, our nation will forever honor him as a true hero from the Greatest Generation that ever lived.
The family wishes to express their deepest gratitude and thanks to the staff at Methodist Village Assisted Living and Heart of Hospice for their loving care to Harold.
To view the video tribute, please visit http://videos.lifetributes.com/1084879.
To pay an online tribute, please visit www.brothertonbrothersfuneralhomes.com.