BY JACLYN ROSE –
James Harnar was born in Mississippi in April of 1927. When he was a young man his family chose to head west and settle in Grover City, California. He made the trip on the back of a flatbed truck with an old dog. James, along with his mother, step-father and several siblings did not have money to stop at hotels along the way, and instead the family would pull over on the side of the road, grab their bedrolls, eat dinner and bed down in a culvert or ditch somewhere.
Faye Harnar was born in Texas in December of 1927, as a young lady her family also chose to make the trek west also settling in Grover City, California.
James and Faye met one day in 1948 when James, working with a crew cutting down trees, took his lunch break while sitting on top of a fence. A group of girls, including Faye, walked by and when James laid eyes on his future bride he nearly fell off the fence. He turned to the guy beside him, unaware he was Faye’s brother, and immediately told him that would be his wife. A few months later the couple crossed paths for a second time at a New Year’s Dance. James spent most the night attempting to dance with Faye and when he was finally able to, he never let her go. After a short engagement the couple married on February 1, 1949.
The couple moved into a small house in Grover City, where they both worked in the fields, picking peas. Faye was soon pregnant with their first of four children, but kept working right up to her delivery date. After several years and three more children, James and Faye moved their family to Pismo Beach, California. It was there that James made a name for himself working for the Sherriff’s Department and as the Chief of the Fire Department until the 60’s happened and the “Hippie Movement” forced the couple out of California to a placed they thought was better suited for raising their family, Fort Worth, Texas.
In Fort Worth, Faye worked for the Post Office while James worked on his education and completed his Masters Degree in Public Administration from Texas Christian University. He went on to teach social sciences at Dallas Baptist University. During this time the couple, who had an interest in real estate, heard of a beautiful town in Arkansas. The couple visited Mena and fell in love with the area. Immediately they began buying up property in Polk County.
Upon retiring from the Post Office, Faye moved to Mena, while James finalized their affairs in Texas. The couple settled downtown, where they have remained ever since. James began teaching Criminal Science at RMCC and they continued to purchase properties that they would renovate and then sell. Many local families benefited from purchasing a home from the Harnars who would carry the note for their buyers, assisting many low-income families who otherwise might not qualify for a home mortgage.
The couple love Polk County and the people of the area. They were involved with the Grand National Association of Retired Employees, and they ran the local chapter of the AARP. They are active members of the North Side Church of Christ and they helped with the building of both the Senior Citizen Center and The Oaks. Faye was also on the Board of Aging for Mike Huckabee during his tenure as Governor of Arkansas.
James and Faye, along with their 4 children, 11 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren will celebrate their 65th Wedding Anniversary this year. They have lived a life that exemplifies love, adventure and the true meaning of family. What a legacy they are building with their commitment.