DESLOGE — Born and raised in Desloge, he would grow up to fight in some of the most famous battles of the Korean War. Then he returned home to devote much of his adult life to civic service. Harold Curtis Pratte died Friday at the age of 80.
Those who knew him described him as a dashing, distinguished gentleman. He carried with him an air of honor and respect through his years of service in the St. Francois County Courthouse and Desloge City Hall. Most who came in contact with him knew very little about the danger and carnage he had witnessed as a young man.
Pratte was born Oct. 23, 1929 in Desloge. He attended local schools and graduated high school in 1948. That same year he enlisted in the U.S. Army for a two-year term. In 1950 he completed his tour and left the service, only to be recalled a month later to serve in the raging war in Korea. During his time there he fought in five of the seven major offensives. He participated in the battle at Chosin Reservoir, one of the first major conflicts with the invading Chinese. Of the 200 men in his Company, only 17 soldiers and one officer survived.
All total, Harold served 11 months in combat. He would eventually be awarded the “Combat Infantry Badge,” or “CIB.”
In 1952 Pratte returned from overseas and married Patsy Yarbrough. They had two children, Karie (also known as “Mickey” or “Kim”) and James. He continued with his military service for a total of 26 years, retiring with the rank of Master Sergeant. The couple returned to St. Francois County in 1973.
Then Pratte began a public career in a more visible role. He served a term as Associate Judge in the county court. Then was elected to two consecutive terms as County Collector.
And while he put his energy to the greater good, he also focused some efforts on his hometown of Desloge. Over the years Pratte served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, as assistant mayor and mayor.
While in office, Pratte helped to raise funds to celebrate the Desloge bi-centennial celebration in 1987. He worked to extend the annual Desloge Labor Day Picnic from a one-day to a three-day event. He also encouraged the involvement of local churches in the yearly festival.
Harold served on the VFW committee responsible for seeing the veteran’s memorial established on the steps of the county courthouse in Farmington.
Outside his public service, Pratte also was a founding member of the Gumbo Assembly of God Church, and served for the past 11 years as a director of the BankStar Advisory Board.
Visitation for Harold Pratte will be today from 4 to 9 p.m. at C.Z. Boyer and Son Funeral Home in Desloge. A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at C.Z. Boyer Chapel with Rev. J.C. Moore officiating. Interment will be at the Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Doug Smith is a reporter for the Daily Journal. You can reach him at 573-756-8927, or at email@example.com.