FAIRMONT — Fairmont Mayor Charles Kemp remembers Abner Harrington, a former Fairmont City Schools and Public Schools of Robeson County board member, for his lifelong support of young people.
“He was an outstanding, genuine, down-to-earth guy,”said Kemp, who went to high school with Harrington and later worked as a teacher in the Fairmont schools when Harrington served on the local school board. “He was just a decent Christian gentleman.”
Harrington, who died Friday as a result of complications from melanoma at age 67, graduated from N.C. State University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Math Education. Following his graduation, he served two years as an officer in the U.S. Army. A Vietnam War veteran, he received a Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal for his service.
Harrington was the co-owner and operator of Fairmont Gas Company.
“I had a lot of business dealings with him. He was an excellent businessman,” Kemp said. “He was fair and honest.”
Harrington served a combined total of 20 years on the Fairmont City Schools and the Public Schools of Robeson County. He served as chairman of both boards.
“I knew him as well as anyone could,” said former Fairmont schools Superintendent Leon McLean. “I knew him as a student, friend and board member.”
McLean described Harrington as “definitely a people person” and a “problem-solver.”
“He was straight as 6 o’clock. He was always honest and we were always on the same page (with school business),” McLean said. “There ware never any hidden agendas.”
Johnny Hunt, the current superintendent of the Public Schools of Robeson County, was another school official who spoke highly of Harrington and his dedication to the young people and school systems in Robeson County.
“He was very knowledgeable of school board matters and school operating procedures. When he spoke, you could tell that,” said Hunt, who was a principal at the time Harrington was a member of the county school board. “He truly wanted the school system to prosper and be the best that it could be. I believe he really wanted to do the best for the children so that they could learn and become productive citizens.”
Harrington was actively involved in the community in many ways, was a member of the Fairmont Rotary Club and Communities in Schools of Robeson County, as well as a deacon and Sunday School teacher at the First Baptist Church in Fairmont.
“He is one of the finest Christian men I have ever known,” said Wayne Leggett, the current chairman of deacons at First Baptist Church and Harrington’s friend for more than 30 years said. “He served on different (church) committees and was always helping out whenever and wherever he was needed.
“He was instrumental in getting a lot of things done around the church,” Leggett said. “He always had a smile on his face and was a problem solver.”
Leggett said that Harrington loved sports and was a member of N.C. State’s Wolfpack Club.
“He had a great sense of humor. If something was written or said about State he would always have a clever comeback,” Leggett said.
Harrington is survived by his wife of 46 years, Susan McCormick Harrington; a son, Abner Brian Harrington of Liberty; and his parents, A. Welton and Irene J. Harrington of Marietta. Among other survivors are two sisters and a brother.
A memorial service was held Monday at First Baptist Church in Fairmont, followed by a private burial in Floyd Cemetery in Fairmont.