Former Oak Ridge City Council member and Anderson County Commissioner Harold Jernigan died Saturday. He was 84.
Jernigan was elected to City Council in 1968, serving for 20 years, including a term as vice mayor. He was elected to the Anderson County Commission in 1998 and served two four-year terms.
“Harold brought a wealth of experience to County Commission and fought hard for he the things he believed in,” Interim Anderson County Mayor Myron Iwanski said. “He was a true public servant.”
Jernigan was also a former director of the Oak Ridge Housing Authority, board chairman for the former Melton Hill Regional Industrial Development Corporation, and director of the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association.
When Jernigan was 15, he drove a bread delivery truck, and his customers included World War I hero Alvin C. York, who owned and operated a grocery store in Jamestown, Tenn., Jernigan’s obituary said.
Jernigan moved with his parents and sister to Oak Ridge in 1944 and began work at the Man1hattan District headquarters, often referred to as “Castle on the Hill.” That was during World War II, when the federal government was engaged in the top-secret Manhattan Project to build the world’s first atomic weapons.
Jernigan followed his older brothers and 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 obituary said.
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,” the obituary said.
“This is how he learned the purpose of the secret work in Oak Ridge, including his own,” it said.
Jernigan was employed at what is now the Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory for 38 years. When he retired in 1992, he was building manager for the Fusion Energy Design Center.
His obituary said he was very proud of having persuaded his fellow City Council members to vote against razing the former Highland View School building and instead allow it to be used as the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge.
A memorial service for Jernigan will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, 1500 Oak Ridge Turnpike.