NEW MADISON — Three grand marshals, representing the three communities in the Tri-Village School District, will be featured in this year’s Tri-Village Community and School Fair on Oct. 3.
Selected to serve as the grand marshals are Hollansburg – Wyoneda Stephens, Palestine – Herb Saylor and New Madison – Joe Eliker.
And, all three said they were honored to be chosen.
“I think it is a great honor and I was quite surprised to be chosen,” said the 91-year-old Stephens.
Born and raised in nearby Braffettsville, she was one of three children of Marshall and Grace (Martin) Wiley. She has a brother, Richard Wiley, of New Paris, and a sister, Jeanette Ricker, deceased.
She attended New Madison High School and later was married to Lowell “Shady” Spencer until his death and she then married Marion Stephens, also deceased.
Stephens is the mother of four, Ginger Brubaker and Darke County Sheriff Toby Spencer as well as Cindy Winterrowd and Todd Stephens, both of whom are deceased. There are 13 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. And, she added that she has two nice sons-in-law, Paul Brubaker and Ted Winterrowd.
She had worked for Glen Karn Poultry and Dr. Parker in Hollansburg before going to work at Fram in Greenville, where she remained for 25 years before retiring.
She said she stays busy. A member of the Hollansburg American Legion Auxiliary and the Hollansburg Christian Church, she does her own house work and even finds time to clean son Toby’s house.
“I was in a wreck and my car was totalled,” said Stephens, who still drives. “Then I had a stroke and, before that, had a home invasion.”
She has lived in Hollansburg ever since she got married the first time in 1946.
“When first there, I didn’t like it and now you can’t get me out of there,” she said. “It’s amazing to me, since I’m handicapped, how people offer to help me by opening my doors or carrying things for me.”
Being in the parade isn’t the first honor Stephens has ever had. She was named queen at the Hollansburg bicentennial celebration years ago and she remembers the king being Noah Lewis.
Saylor, who celebrated his 89th birthday on Aug. 6, he has lived in Palestine basically all of his life. He is the only living child of seven born to William and Elba (Ketring) Saylor.
“I was born between Hollansburg and Palestine and moved here when I was 5,” he said.
He graduated from high school in 1944 and, the day after, went to the Navy.
“I had been sworn in a month prior,” Saylor said. “I finished up my education and enlisted for duration plus.”
Saylor, who was discharged from the military in 1946, served in the Pacific.
“Four of us brothers were all in the service at the same time, a couple with Purple Hearts,” he said.
He had been married to the former Ida Lipps for 58 1/2 years prior to her death in 2007. The couple had met at a K of P Hall dance, he said.
They have two children, Robin Houpt of Florida and randy, deceased. There are also three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Saylor worked for Avco in Richmond, Indiana, for 26 1/2 years and after that company moved out, he went to work at Corning in Greenville for 11 years, after which he retired. He worked with his brother, Dale, doing metal roofing and helped Auctioneer Ralph Hoblit for 50 years, as a clerk, helper….the whole gamut.
He has been a member of the Palestine Church of Christ since 1934 and is a past commander of the Niles Richards American Legion Post at Hollansburg. Years back, he belonged to the fire departments at Palestine and Hollansburg; was a village councilman; and served one term as mayor beginning in 1959.
“Politics wasn’t for me,” he said.
His said his day generally begins at 4 a.m., at which time he takes care of things around the house. And, at daylight, he takes care of the yard work and runs around.
“I consider it a great honor that they’d even think of me being chosen grand marshal,” Saylor said. “It was quite a surprise. I don’t miss a school fair.”
Eliker said he has been in the parade several different times, especially when he had his farm machinery and twice has been asked to pull a float. Now, he will be a grand marshal.
The 96-year-old was born and raised in New Madison, the only child of the late Lorenzo and Cora (Hartman) Eliker.
“I live on the original family farm my great-grandfather Eliker got hold of in 1894,” said the 1938 New Madison High School graduate.
Eliker farmed before he went into the U.S. Air Force for four years in World War II, and came home and farmed for 15 more. Then, he became a farm machinery dealer for J.I. Case Co., before gong to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and working on a flight line and ending up as a heavy equipment operator.
During the military, he was a crew chief on a C-47 transport.
“We were all over the South Pacific,” he said.
Like Stephens and Saylor, Eliker is widowed. His wife, Helen, died in 2011.
They had met in county band in high school; he from New Madison and she from Arcanum. They were married in 1942.
They are the parents of JoEllen Sullivan of Indianapolis, Connie Bates of New Madison and Barry, who lives on Stingley Road. There are four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
He said his favorite pastime now is sleeping. He does his own laundry, cooking and yard work.
Eliker is a member of the New Madison United Methodist Church, Masonic Lodge and New Madison American Legion and used to belong to the fire department, dropping out 15 years ago.
“I like living here,” he replied when asked how he likes being a resident of New Madison.
Lineup for the parade on Oct. 3 will be at 10 a.m. on Anderson Street, just north of the Snack Shop. The theme this year is “Old Roots To New Beginnings.”
The New Madison Volunteer Fire Department organizes the parade annually.