Harold Wayne Jernigan, of Oak Ridge, passed away quietly on Saturday, June 30, at Briarcliff Health Care Center, surrounded by family members.
He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Helen Chastain Jernigan; by daughter Mary Wool (Dennis), of Williamsburg, Va.; Hal Jernigan (Pamela) of Oak Ridge; stepsons John Fairstein (Ardyce), of Hardin Valley, and Joel Fairstein, of Knoxville; sister Charlotte Keathley (Joe) of Oak Ridge; granddaughters Angi Gillen (Greg) of Frederick, Md., and Kate Jernigan, of Oak Ridge; grandson Joshua Wool, of New York City; and by seven nieces and nephews.
Mr. Jernigan was born in Algood, Tenn., on July 25, 1927, to the late William G. Jernigan and Ethel Cook Jernigan. He attended school at Livingston Academy and went to work at an early age, including a job at the construction of Dale Hollow Dam.
At 15, he drove a bread delivery truck; his customers included World War I hero Alvin C. York, who owned and operated a grocery store in Jamestown.
He moved with his parents and sister to Oak Ridge in 1944, and began work at the Manhattan District headquarters (“Castle on the Hill,”).
Following his older brothers, he left his job to join the U. S. Navy in 1945 at 17. He served on the USS Myles C. Fox and the USS Frank Knox.
His ship was in the Pacific headed for the invasion of Japan when the announcement was made on the ship’s loudspeaker system that a bomb had been dropped on Japan and that it had been made “somewhere in Tennessee.” This is how he learned the purpose of the secret work in Oak Ridge, including his own.
When World War II was over, he returned to his job at “the Castle.”
He later attended a trade school on the G.I. bill, leading to a long career as an electronics technician. He was employed at the Y-12 plant and Oak Ridge National Laboratory for 38 years.
At the time of his retirement in 1992, he was building manager for the Fusion Energy Design Center.
Mr. Jernigan was elected to the Oak Ridge City Council in 1968, and continued to serve for 20 years, including a term as vice mayor. He served as a member of the Tennessee Municipal League’s Environmental Resources Committee and on the National League of City’s Finance, Administration, and Intergovernmental Resources (FAIR) Committee.
He was very proud of having persuaded his fellow City Council members to vote against razing the former Highland View School building and rather to allow it to be used as the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.
Other civic work included seven years as a director of the Oak Ridge Housing Authority, service as chairman of the board of Melton Hill Regional Industrial Development Corp. and as a director of the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association.
He was elected in 1998 to the Anderson County Board of County Commissioners and served on that body for two four-year terms. His work on the Commission included chairmanship of the Legislative Committee and the Reapportionment Committee.
Harold loved computer work and served as president of the East Tennessee Computer User Society and as editor of its tabloid newsletter publication. He also belonged to the Oak Ridge PC Users Group.
He was a member of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, the Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters, the Oak Ridge Art Center, and the Benevolent Order of Elks.
His recreational activities included the piloting of small aircraft, photography, traveling, and wildflower gardening.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 7, at 11 a.m. at Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, 1500 Turnpike (traffic light # 11). Co-officiating for the service will be Rev. Jake Morrill and Rev. Bob Cantrell. The service will be followed by a reception. A light lunch will be served.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made by contributions to the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, 461 W. Outer Drive, Oak Ridge, TN 37830.
An online guest book can be signed at www.weatherfordmortuary.com.