The Times West Virginian

Local News

April 21, 2014

Harold and Alta Efaw find keeping active keeps them young

MANNINGTON — Harold Efaw started a trend in his family.

Efaw spent nearly two decades working as a firefighter. Eight of his nephews followed in his footsteps and became first responders.

“They were just like our kids,” Harold’s wife Alta said. “We never considered them nephews.”

Efaw was drafted into the United States Army in 1954. He served in the Korean War in the 25th Signal Company as a telephone switchboard operator.

After being discharged, Efaw spent time working for a glass company, a dental office and a manufacturing company. While working for the manufacturing company, Efaw and his wife Alta began making a mobile home park. Efaw had to work two jobs.

Efaw worked at both the manufacturing job and part time for the U.S. Postal Service for about four months. While his job with the postal service was considered part time, he regularly received more than 40 hours per week.

Efaw began volunteering in late 1957. After a bad fire, an older firefighter was outside of Efaw’s home.

“One of the older firemen, he had just gotten back from a terrible fire, caught me and the neighbors outside one morning,” Efaw said. “Time for you to get into the fire department because we need some young blood in there.”

Charlie Carson was the name of the man who asked Efaw to join the Mannington Fire Department. Efaw joined as a reserve fireman.

“You went the meetings and you went to the fires, but you did not have a vote,” Efaw said. “It was a couple of years before I made a regular firefighter.”

Efaw was offered the job as the treasurer for the Mannington Fire Department. He did not want to be the treasurer.

“They told me to take it until somebody else wanted it,” Efaw said. “Well, 18 years later, I resigned from it.”

Efaw had to resign after moving outside Mannington city limits.

“It was part paid. You got paid for hours fighting the fire,” Efaw said. “We got the money for the fires every three months and also got the water bill every three months, and it amounted to about the same thing. So we would just pay the water bills.”

Efaw continued to work with the Mannington Fire Department but as a volunteer. He used a video camera to film fires being fought. The videos were supposed to be used to assist in training for new fire fighters.

One fire was thought to be arson.

“The last fire I (filmed) we thought it was arson,” Efaw said. “Someone broke into the house one night and stole the video, camera and all.”

Efaw was a member of the Mannington Old Fashion Fourth of July Committee and served as its first president.

Harold and his wife Alta still volunteer for the Mannington Fire Department and the First Baptist Church in Mannington. They volunteer at a local food pantry every week.

Harold and Alta Efaw married on July 14, 1956.

They adopted their only daughter and have a granddaughter, who is on the West Virginia Wesleyan softball team.

Efaw’s oldest nephew Chuck Riggs began following Efaw to the fire house.

“He was at the fire house with me every time I was,” Efaw said.

“Since he was big enough to walk,” Alta Efaw said.

Riggs is an assistant chief at the Mannington Fire Department and the chief of the Metz department.

Nephews Bryan and Shawn Fluharty work for the Fire Rescue squad in Loudoun County, Va.

Nephew Brandon Riggs volunteers for the Mannington fire department, teaches CPR classes and is a full time pre-medical student.

Rick Rinehart is a coal miner and volunteers at the Mannington fire department.

Chris Efaw, whom Harold calls his “nephew-cousin,” is a school bus driver and also volunteers in Mannington.

Chris’ son, Justin Efaw, volunteers for Mannington and works for the Anne Moore Rescue Squad.

Nephew Clayton Rinehart is a member of the Mon County rescue squad and is a college student.

Harold and Alta Efaw both volunteer and remain active in Mannington. They celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary in July.

Harold said he enjoys staying active and that being active helps him not age.

“I know we take on too much every once in a while, but it makes you feel good to volunteer,” Alta said.

Harold is often busy around the home and in the community. He sometimes volunteers as a  Shriners clown.

The Efaws have been to every state but Hawaii.

“I was there after Korea, but Alta says it does not count because it was not a state yet,” Efaw said.

Harold and Alta worked at the Yellowstone National Park before during the summer. They have also gone white water rafting as soon as six years ago.

“I’m not an old man. I’m just getting older,” Efaw said. “There’s a difference.”

Email Richard Babich at rbabich@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @rbabichTWV.

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