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Paul E. Harnetty Obituary - Hill Funeral Home


Mass of Christian Burial will take place Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at St Paul Catholic Church, 313 N. State St., Westerville followed by interment at Resurrection Cemetery.

Marilyn and family,

We are very sorry about your loss. We have good memories of Paul as such a kind and gentle neighbor. You have a wonderful family!

Best wishes to you all.

Ron & Eva Reich

Ron & Eva Reich

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Obituary for Paul E. Harnetty

Paul E. Harnetty 1930-2021

Paul E. Harnetty

12/06/1930 - 10/14/2021

Paul Eugene Harnetty, of Westerville, Ohio, died on October 14, 2021, aged 90. He was the last surviving member of his immediate family, and was preceded in death by his mother and father Florence (née Paxton) and William; sisters Marie and Margaret; brothers Clarence, Thomas, Francis, James, and Charles; and daughter Jane (Steve) Boback.

Paul was born on December 6, 1930, in Junction City, Perry County, Ohio. He grew up during the Depression on a farm and apple orchard at the top of a hill on Route 668, overlooking the town and valley below. Across the road from his home is St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and Cemetery, affectionately known to his family as “Silent City.” The church was designed by architect Thomas Spare, a distant relative, and several generations of Harnettys are buried there, dating back to before the Civil War.

Paul was extremely intelligent, possessed an insatiable curiosity, and had an innate ability to work with mechanical objects. At a very young age, he had already taken apart and reassembled his first Waltham pocket watch (“I’m happy to say I didn’t fix it,” he said recently). As a young man, he worked many jobs, including loading kilns at a local clay pipe manufacturer, known as the “Mud Mill.” He was athletic, and played for the Junction City High School basketball team. On occasion, he would also play baseball with other local boys against inmates at the Junction City prison. He once said, “I was never afraid of the prisoners. I knew I could run faster than any of them.”

In the early 1950s, Paul left Junction City to join the Air Force. He was stationed in Okinawa, Japan during the Korean War, where he repaired radar systems on planes. After returning to Ohio, he worked for International Business Machines (IBM) as a typewriter and time clock repairman. He traveled to businesses in Columbus and later throughout Southeastern Ohio, maintaining equipment. This work satisfied very different and important parts of Paul’s personality: a need to be moving and visiting new places; working with mechanical objects; and the social aspects of talking with and learning from people from all walks of life. Importantly, Paul never desired to be a manager or executive; instead, he took pleasure in living quietly, using his hands and mind, and interacting with family and friends.

It was during one of these visits he met his wife Marilyn (née Williams), who was working at the Crane Company in Columbus. “He came in to work on my typewriter,” said Marilyn. “He wore a dress suit with white socks, which I found endearing. Later, he asked me out and the rest is history.” They were married in 1958, moved to Zanesville, Ohio, and in 1965 moved to their current home in Westerville.

In the mid-1960s, Paul developed tuberculosis, a disease that also afflicted his brother, Bob. Over two years, he was quarantined at OSU Hospital, forcing Marilyn to take care of their four young children on her own. While in quarantine, his work colleagues gave him an entire typewriter in pieces, which he promptly reassembled (it is still working today).

After retiring from IBM, Paul began collecting and repairing antique radios. He amassed several hundred models, and he took delight in their hum and glow. Again, this hobby fulfilled both his need to understand the world through mechanical and physical objects, and also to socialize with others. He developed several friendships among other collectors, and especially enjoyed traveling to auctions and sales.

As a Roman Catholic, Paul had a very strong religious faith. His family, immigrating from Ireland, was among the first Catholics that settled in Ohio. He was a member of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Westerville for over fifty years, and never missed a Sunday mass. He served the St. Paul community in many ways, including being a Sunday collection counter.

Paul will be remembered for sitting quietly in the yard under Maple trees, his ability to remain optimistic even during the darkest of times, his strong sense of self, his capacity to repair anything with patience and inventiveness, his dedication to his family, his support and encouragement toward his children, his subtle humor, and his wry smile.

Paul is survived by his wife Marilyn, daughters Lisa (John) Rehark, Laura (Gary) Sammons, Karen (Bob) Belisle, son Brian (Jennifer) Harnetty, grandchildren Daniel Sammons (Emily), Emily Sammons, Greg Sammons (Jessie), Katie Eddy (Joe), Samantha Rehark, Hanna Rehark, Addison Rehark, Ally Boback, Rachel Boback, Ben Belisle, and Henry Harnetty, and great grandchildren Oliver and Lincoln Sammons.

A viewing will be held at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Westerville on Tuesday, October 19 beginning at 9:30AM, and followed by a funeral mass at 10:30AM. Rev. Jonathan Wilson will preside. Interment Resurrection Cemetery.