An Augusta veteran and former pastor who honored Columbia County by lighting its Christmas tree on Pearl Harbor Day died Tuesday.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Calvin Hoyle Garner, 83, served more than 26 years in the military and witnessed the Dec. 7, 1941, attacks on Pearl Harbor from the USS Argonne, stationed in the port's Naval Dock Yard across from Battleship Row.
"He heard the planes coming that morning," Garner's son, John, said.
When the county's second annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony fell on Pearl Harbor Day in 2002, Garner volunteered to flip the switch and arrived in full dress uniform.
"He loved to do things like that," said John Garner, who lived with and cared for his father, a native of Fitzhugh, Ark. "He was honored to do that in particular."
Garner is survived by three children, Calvin Hoyle Garner Jr., Daphne Garner Hopson and John D. Garner, all of Augusta; three grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Family and friends gathered for Garner's funeral and interment, with full military honors, Saturday in Augusta, Ark.
After serving at the Battle of Midway during World War II, Garner attended the seminary and returned to the Army as a chaplain. He served in Vietnam and retired in 1978. He served as deputy post chaplain at Fort Gordon and was chaplain for the 3rd Armored Division in Germany. He was former pastor of First American Baptist Church in Augusta and was interim pastor of Bayville Baptist Church, where he was a member.
John Garner described his father as strict, but also pretty cool.
"I just hope I can fill his shoes."
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