James A. Harter (Sign Guestbook)

James A. Harter, age 94, died peacefully at home on March 12, 2017. Jim was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania on September 13, 1922 and grew up in New Jersey and State College, Pennsylvania. He was preceded in death by mother, Pauline Owens Harter, father James Andrew Harter; and sister, Ruth H. Sholly. He leaves behind his wife of 67 years, Ann Harter; daughter Barbara Whelchel (Ward) of Naples Florida; son, Bob Harter of Knoxville, Tennessee; grandsons, Andrew Whelchel (Christine) Brad Whelchel, Michael Reeves (Lori); granddaughter, Emily Morrell (Clint); five great-grandchildren; three nephews and two nieces; and other extended family and friends. Jim loved his family and will be greatly missed.

Jim was a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church since 1953. He was able to be in the choir for over 50 years. He graduated in the class of 1944 from Penn State with an Electrical Engineering degree and remains a Senior Member of IEEE.  Because of WWII, he graduated in November of 1943. While waiting to be drafted, he accepted a job with General Electric in Schenectady, New York. In March of 1944, he was recruited for the Manhattan Project in a place he had never heard of – Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He first was hired by what was then called Clinton Engineer Works (later Y-12). For many years he was with the Health Physics Division (ORNL) and later Instrumentation and Controls. He retired in 1985. He and Ann enjoyed living in Fountain City, and Jim loved his adopted state, especially the surrounding East Tennessee lakes and mountains.

Music was always a special part of his life. First at The Episcopal Boys Choir in New Jersey, then serving as President of the Penn State Symphony Orchestra (first chair French horn player). He was also in Penn State Glee Club and Blue Band. Jim was a life member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He was first an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 256 at St. Paul Church.  Later as Scoutmaster, the Troop hiked the Cumberland and Smoky Mountains once a month, rain or shine. Jim was also involved for over 20 years in scenic conservation issues. He was especially concerned with protecting the scenic beauty with better sign control and elimination of litter locally and statewide. In 1988 he was honored as Man of the Year at Honor Fountain City Day. He helped form Scenic Tennessee and Scenic Knoxville. He served on the board of the Washington, D.C. based Scenic America. Jim was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Scenic Knoxville in 2009. The family enjoyed relaxing at Norris Lake at the cabin built in 1976 next door to their lifelong friends Louis and Dixie Iglehart. Everyone could always count on Jim’s patience pulling water skiers, or acting as fishing guide.

The family will Receive Friends on Thursday, March 16th from 4-5 pm at St. Paul United Methodist Church, 4014 Garden Drive in Fountain City. A Celebration of Life will follow at 5 pm, with retired minister Rev. Andy Ferguson officiating. A Private Family Burial will be held at Greenwood Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to St. Paul UMC, Mobile Meals, or a charity of your choice. Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel is honored to serve the Harter family and invites you to view and sign their online guestbook below.


7 guestbook entries for “James A. Harter”:

  1. Cheryl Parry says:

    Jim was such a talented and wonderful man. He sure will be missed by me and all the Saint Paul Church. He was a great man!!

  2. Kelly Dixon says:

    Ann, He always had a smile and encouraging word, what a fine example of a husband, father, and faithful servant. Love and prayers to you, Kelly (Summers) Dixon and family

  3. Linda Gosselin says:

    My deepest sympathy for the Harter family. Jim always had that welcoming smile.

  4. Tom Williams says:

    I met Jim in the mid-’80s when I was a reporter for the Knoxville Journal and he was crusading against highway sign blight. At first he was a source for my writing about that topic, but he and Ann soon became fast friends with my wife Carol and me. I admired Jim immensely — his generosity, his sense of humor (oh, those jokes and puns!), his intelligence and his care for his community. I can’t remember Jim ever uttering a cross word. He was just an all-around great guy, one of the best, and we will miss him greatly. Condolences to all of his family and friends.

  5. Rosemary Merwin says:

    Mr. Harter was a wonderful neighbor to our family for more than 40 years. I have so many nice memories of him. My deepest sympathy to Ann and family.

  6. Kathy (Vettori) Kelly says:

    I have fond memories of being a child in the church with Jim and Ann, and also later of singing in the choir with him. Jim was a very fine man and will be dearly missed. My condolences to Ann and the family.

  7. Barbara Payne Morgan says:

    Mr Harter always had a smile on his face..and I will always remember him from my childhood years at St Paul’s. My prayers are expressed for Mrs Harter and the family.

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