By Linda Moody
NORTH STAR — Willard Gehron has been selected to serve as parade marshal of Sunday afternoon’s parade at the 64th annual North Star Picnic.
He plans on having his wife, Karen, with him on their family golf cart during the parade, but they’re still hashing things over.
The parade gets underway at 2 p.m.
Gehron has lived in the North Star area most of his life, and is probably among the long-time residents of the community.
“I was 6 months old when we moved to town,” said the 77-year-old. “I’ve lived here except for the three years I was in the military.”
He served in the U.S. Air Force, starting in 1959, which included a three-month stint in Alaska. The 1957 graduate of Versailles High School said he worked for his father, Daniel, after high school.
“My dad was a blacksmith and a drainage contract worker,” Gehron said. “I also drove a milk truck part-time.”
Also the son of the late Anna (Gause) Gehron, Willard has a brother (the late Melvin Gehron, who was grand marshal a few years back) and three sisters (Corda Leeper of North Star, Margaret Miles of Greenville and Bernice Rhoades, deceased).
Gehron and his wife, the former Karen (Hoverman). are the parents of one son and three daughters.
She is from Wiltshire in Van Wert County, and said they met through his cousin who introduced them.
The Gehrons were married Dec. 27, 1959, and are the parents of Michael Gehron of Vandalia, Christie Rindler of North Star, Debbie Stewart of Rossburg and Annette Shroyer of Wiltshire. There are 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“We were married while he was in the service and spent a year or so in Kansas as he was stationed there,” Karen offered.
Willard worked for Midmark Corp. for 36-plus years when he retired. He also drove dump truck part-time for a friend.
Gehron was a volunteer firefighter in North Star for 35-plus years, and he served one year on village council.
“I finished out the term of a fellow who went off council,” he said.
He and his wife were members of the now-defunct Congregational Christian Church in North Star and are now attending Greenville Missionary Church.
They enjoy camping and spend a lot of their free time at River Trail Campground in Mendon.
“He also helps take care of me,” Karen said. “He’s a good guy.”
They also attend the once-a-month lunches with other eighth-graders who attended North Star Elementary School over the years, and he goes with her to her Corning Glass retirees breakfasts each month.
“I retired in 2002 from Corning after 19 years,” she said.
Willard has also gotten involved with a robotics team in which family members participate.
“They have six weeks to design and build a robot for competition and then there are six weeks of competition,” he explained. “It’s basically done by high school students with adult mentors. Our son and his daughter and our daughter and her son have been involved. My son does machine work, and now our daughter has started a robotics team at a college in Indiana. It’s an expensive hobby for a nonprofit organization.”
The North Star Picnic gets underway Friday with a co-ed softball tournament at 6 p.m., followed by entertainment, and and will continue all day Saturday and Sunday with all kinds of activities for the entire family.