Veteran of the Week: Emfinger receives DAR Service Award
By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist
Technical Sergeant Henry Emfinger, U.S. Air Force Retired, was recently awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution Community Service Award for his life of service and preserving the history of Alabama coal miners through the Aldrich Coal Mining Museum that he owns and is curator.
He was sponsored by the David Lindsay Chapter of Shelby County.
Emfinger grew up in Aldrich, a coal mining town where his father moved for work.
A Brownie Hawkeye camera that he received at age 12 forever changed his life.
He fell in love with photography and began taking pictures of Aldrich, the genesis of the museum.
In 1952 while a student at Montevallo High School, he won the National High School Photography Award.
Emfinger graduated from MHS in 1954, attended Alabama College, now University of Montevallo, and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1960.
Over the years he won many awards for his leadership and character: Certificate of Achievement in Selling Ability, MHS (1953); Eastern Star Leadership Award (1956); Leadership Award for Vacation Bible School (1962); Ordination of Deacon at Aldrich Baptist Church (1964); Airman of Month and Airman of Quarter, Loring AFB, Maine (1963); Certificate of Appreciation, Shaw AFB (1975); Certificate of Appreciation and Chief of Chaplain Certificate of Meritorious Service for Committed Support of Chapel Program, Okinawa, Japan; NCO of Month and Outstanding NCO, Shaw AFB, Sumter, S.C. (1976); and Outstanding Airman of Year Southeast Asia.
He retired from the Air Force in 1980 after serving stateside and in Japan, Thailand and Vietnam as a security policeman and in chapel management.
After his Air Force retirement, Emfinger returned home to Aldrich and graduated from the University of Montevallo in 1984.
Emfinger and wife Rose bought the Aldrich General Store, which houses the museum, and Farrington Hall, an adjacent building that housed the mine’s offices, and pursued his passion of preserving the history of the area.
In 1999 Emfinger was named the Montevallo Citizen of the Year.
The museum is filled with Emfinger’s many collections, historic photographs, mining artifacts as well as a simulated coal mine giving homage to Alabama coal miners.
For museum information, call Emfinger at (205) 665-2886.