GREENVILLE — Dean and Arlene Bankson, owners of Wieland Jewelers in downtown Greenville, will be serving as this year’s grand marshals of the Annie Oakley Days Parade.
The parade will be held in downtown Greenville, forming at the Darke County Fairgrounds and make its way up Fair Street to Washington Avenue, then to Broadway and to the Traffic Circle before going back to the fairgrounds.
“It’s wonderful,” said Dean when asked how he felt about them being named grand marshals.
“I felt honored,” Arlene, his wife of 55 1/2 years added.
The couple is also scheduled to be in Washington, D.C. that same evening for an Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO) Show. They have gone to many IJO shows, including to San Antonio and Palm Springs, over the years. They plan on making the trip this year via vehicle to Washington.
It’s Wieland Jewelers that provides the top three finishers in the Miss Annie Oakley shooting competition with their charms each year.
“Miss Annie will get a gold necklace and first and second runners-up will get silver necklaces,” he said.
The Banksons bought the jewelry store, which is probably one of the oldest establishments on South Broadway, from Arlene’s father, the late Ivan Spahr, who purchased it in 195o. The original owner was Roy Wieland, who started the store in 1902.
The first store was located across from Wayne Theater on the southwest corner of Broadway and Fifth streets, in 1955. It moved to 420 S. Broadway, where it remained until it moved across the street to 417 S. Broadway, and stayed there 42 years before moving to its present location at 414 S. Broadway 7 1/2 years ago.
Dean, one of 10 children of the late Roy and Blanche (Robbins) Bankson, is a 1956 graduate of Ansonia High School.
Ivan and Ruth Spahr, Arlene’s parents, moved to Greenville from Richmond, Indiana, in Arlene’s seventh-grade year, and she went on to graduate from Greenville High School in 1959.
After having met through mutual friends, the Banksons were married Dec. 27, 1960.
The couple has three sons, Mark, Mike and Matt. Mark and Matt work at the store in the shop on gold repairs. Mark’s wife the former Gail Keller, and Mike’s wife, the former Corrin Fitzwater,are also store employees. Son Matt works for the Ohio Department of Agriculture and is married to the former Heather Vore.
There are six grandchildren: Rachel, and accountant and daughter of Mike and Corrin; Danielle (a nurse) and Eric (a welder), children of Mark and Gail; and Maggie, 14, Sam, 12, and Charlie, 8, the children of Matt and Heather.
The couple enjoys traveling, going to swimming and soccer activities involving their grandchildren and eating out with their family and friends. They still ride his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and are members of the Presbyterian Church where Arlene was raised.
Dean, a U.S. Army veteran, belongs to the Masons, Shrine, American Legion, the Liars Club and Chamber of Commerce and was former past president of the Sertoma Club, that has since disbanded.
Arlene had worked with the IBM computers at Fram for a couple of years and “retired” to raise her children.
Dean and Arlene still work at the store almost daily.
“I like to greet the people and Dean is the watch repairman,” she said.