John Vernon Harner of New Vienna, Ohio was taken into Christ’s arms 9:29 AM, Monday, August 27, 2012 at University Hospital in Cincinnati with his entire immediate family and pastor at his side. Mr. Harner was born May 16, 1946 in Wilmington, Ohio, son of the late Orville David and Anna Louise Mathews Harner.
As a young child, he knew he would always be involved in farming for he loved the splendor of God’s earth, the miraculous birth of baby calves and pigs, working on machinery, and woodworking. He always said the greatest church was his barnyard!
He attended school at New Vienna Elementary and was a senior the year New Vienna consolidated with Simon Kenton, graduating in 1964. He was involved in chorus, band, and FFA. Following in his mother’s footsteps, he enrolled in Wilmington College, lived on campus the entire time, and graduated in 1968. Guided by Dr. Minzo Stark, Ralph McKee, Kenneth Wilson, and Roy Joe Stuckey, he refined and learned many new skills in metal craft, woodworking, learned the latest techniques in farming, and received his degree in Industrial Supervision and Agriculture. At Wilmington College he was actively involved with the WC Aggies.
John spent most of his life actively engaged in farming, but upon graduating from college he taught in the East Clinton District for three years. He was a middle school special needs teacher at Reesville, an industrial arts teacher at the high school, and then proudly opened the high school special needs program. Upon purchasing the family farm, he returned to the dairy farm full time. Later, he worked part-time at Airborne Express in property maintenance then transferred to the sort center. He really enjoyed his years in re-wrap, and always joked about everyone knowing the re-wrap man!
January 3, 1974, he married Jennie Wilkin Holley Harner at the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Hillsboro, Ohio. Jennie joined him and was actively involved in the everyday operations of the family farm. They had five children, all who survive. Michelle (Ryan) Myers of Beavercreek, Ohio, Lorine (David) Harner-Jarrell of New Vienna, Ohio, David (Andrea) Harner of New Vienna, Ohio, Nancymae (Jeremiah) Ogden of Sugar Tree Ridge, Ohio, and Samuel (Whitney) Harner of New Vienna, Ohio. John enjoyed bragging that the three children in the New Vienna area all live on the Harner Family Farms.
A Birthright Quaker, he was a member of the Fairview Friends Meeting. Throughout the years he served on many committees, and was a trustee. Later, he also became a member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Hillsboro, where he enjoyed helping Jennie with coffee hours. He was known for his “big hugs” in the Exchange of the Peace during church services. In 2006 he took his “Walk to Emmaus” in the Wilmington Community. He had been a team member in 2008, and worked in the kitchen serving breakfasts on many men’s and women’s walks. During the last Walks, when he found it hard to move around, he enjoyed sitting on the stool telling stories and anecdotes, and then instructing how to run the dishwasher. John loved the Lord, always looked forward to Bible Study with the New Vienna Church of Christ members, and witnessed God’s love wherever he happened to be.
He was an avid 4-H member and later became an advisor. He was delighted when his children were showing cattle, sheep, food, clothing, or whatever, and was thrilled to follow them to the Ohio State Fair on many occasions. He was an active member of the New Vienna Lion’s Club and had served as secretary for several years. In the New Vienna community, he was often seen taking the grandchildren for rides on his golf cart, and he maintained a bountiful garden which he shared with everyone who walked into the house. Being an avid woodworker in his retirement years, he made over 200 stools and trays which were all given away, as well as many pieces of furniture for family and friends, including toy box barns and hobbyhorses for the grandchildren. He always said the garden and his woodworking were his gifts from God, and he could not charge for them. His pride was just completed, a book of his life, It Is Not The Beginning, Nor The End, It Is The Middle That Counts!
In addition to his wife and children, he is survived by a sister, Isabelle Donahey of Yellow Springs, Ohio; stepmother, Josephine Harner of Wilmington, Ohio; grandchildren, Alexander Myers, Jarod Jarrell, Shawn Jarrell, Dallas Harner, Robbie Harner, Tyler Harner, Anne-Marie Ogden, Kathryn Ogden, Elizabeth Ogden, Jennielynn Ogden, Melanie Harner, and Thomas Harner; great-grandchildren, Landen Jarrell and Elyse Jarrell; brothers-in-law, David Mack Fife of Wilmington, Ohio and Rick (Shirley) Wilkin of Allensburg, Ohio; nieces and nephews, Brandon (Jennifer) Biehl, David Fife, Tanya (Pat) Hendrix, and Kelly Wilkin; step-siblings, Stan (Lin) Fawley, Marvin (Karen ) Fawley, Peggy (Arnold) Hill, Sam (Michelle) Hadley, Sue (David) Roehm, David (Michelle)Hadley, Rose Ann (Russ) Stauffer, Elizabeth Hadley, and Esther (Mark) Shinkle; numerous step-nieces and step-nephews; and his faithful dog, Chip. He is also survived by his close friend and prayer partner, Gretchen Streber McGraw. He will be missed by many friends, family members, and his large faith community. In addition to his parents, his younger sister, Brenda Elaine Harner Fife, and stepmother, Melba Fawley Harner, are preceded in death.
Funeral services will be 2:00 PM, Saturday, September 1, 2012 at Fairview Friends Meeting, Antioch Road, New Vienna, Ohio. Burial will be in New Vienna Cemetery. Friends may call from 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM, Friday, August 31, 2012 at the L. Eugene Smith & Son Funeral Home, 64 S. South Street, New Vienna, Ohio.
If desired, memorial contributions may be made to Fairview Friends Meeting, c/o Karen McKenzie, 595 West Street, New Vienna, Ohio 45159 or to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Organ Fund, 234 N. High Street, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133.