By most accounts, Carl Womer was the last official mayor of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Sadly he passed away on May 24, 2014 at the age of 90.
While the title of mayor appears to have been retired with his passing, the town still has leadership. Both Stephen Hynoski and Tom Hynoski currently help to maintain the borough and keep municipal affairs in order. Though with a population of only six, managing Centralia is very much a group effort for all the residents.
Carl Womer lived near the end of Wood Street in Centralia PA. He was born in the neighboring town of Aristes in 1923. Womer graduated from Conyngham High School in 1941 and majored in machining at the Williamsport Technical school. He served in World War II and saw active combat in Europe.
Working as a machinist, Carl moved to Centralia Pennsylvania and raised a family there. He was married to Helen Womer, who passed away in 2001. She was an early activist in the town, pushing state and federal officials to do something about the mine fire.
She had reason for concern. The fire began only a few hundred feet from the Womer’s home near Odd Fellows Cemetery. In later years, the Womers would take the position that the lack of response to the mine fire was part of a government conspiracy to take the huge amounts of anthracite coal under the borough.
Carl Womer was one of the last residents of Centralia. For years, he fought eviction by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It was only in the fall of 2013 that he, along with five other residents, settled with the state. They received a payout for their properties and were allowed to stay in their homes until they died.
Today, Carl Womer is remembered as a kind person who was always happy to talk to visitors to Centralia PA and tell his side of the mine fire story.