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*****ECRWSSEDDM***** Postal Customer

DEER GROVE, ERIE, FENTON, LYNDON, MORRISON, PROPHETSTOWN, TAMPICO A

PUBLICATION • FALL/WINTER 2019

‘ little slice of heaven’ Campground gives people a place where they can take the rough edges off the daily grind

ALSO INSIDE New business puts alternative energy to good use: Healing Teachers celebrate 100 years of friendship and life lessons Dance club is a bunch of Squares – and they’re darn proud of it Veterans helping veterans could use some reinforcements


‘A little slice of heaven’

DEER GROVE, ERIE, FENTON, LYNDON, MORRISON, PROPHETSTOWN, TAMPICO

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Publisher Don T. Bricker

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General Manager/Advertising Director Jennifer Heintzelman Magazine Editors Kathleen Schultz & Rusty Schrader Page Design Rusty Schrader Published by Sauk Valley Media 3200 E. Lincolnway Sterling, IL 61081 815-625-3600

Articles and advertisements are the property of Sauk Valley Media. No portion of Small Town Living Magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher. Ad content is not the responsibility of Sauk Valley Media. The information in this magazine is believed to be accurate; however, Sauk Valley Media cannot and does not guarantee its accuracy. Sauk Valley Media cannot and will not be held liable for the quality or performance of goods and services provided by advertisers listed in any portion of this magazine.

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Campers have a lot to crow about at a place where they can take the rough edges off the daily grind

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More inside

Round and round they go

Alternative energy

Local dance club has been answering the calls for years, keeping a centuries-old style of dance alive and well.

Morrison woman lends a hand to her community by helping people tap into a renewable resource that we all have: the power within ourselves

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20 Life lessons

Veterans helping veterans Sauk Valley Marine Detachment No. 913’s ranks may be thinning, but its members remain faithful to their mission

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Friends and former teachers have a lot to celebrate: Their 100th birthday, a friendship, and a special place in students’ hearts and minds.

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The owners of a campground just outside of the Twin Cities are giving their campers something to crow about: a relaxing place along the river where people can take the rough edges off the daily grind

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STORY SHELBY KUEPKER PHOTOS ALEX T. PASCHAL | FOR SMALL TOWN LIVING WEST

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icture it: A cool summer breeze drifts across the river, rustling leaves and coaxing you out of a deep sleep, nature’s gentle alarm clock. You wake up, breathe in the fresh air and pour a cup of coffee. Then you crack open the tackle box, bait the hook, get the rod and reel ready, and with the flip of a wrist you’re fishing. And all you have to do is walk out your front door – or tent flap. Better yet, this scenic slice of R&R nestled among nature isn’t even that far away, as the crow flies, anyway. Crow Valley Campground, located on 40 acres about 2 miles west of the Twin Cities off Moline Road near a bend in the Rock River, offers a place to set up camp, kick back and relax. In fact, that’s one of the rules – it’s displayed on a sign at the campground: “relax and unwind.” Continued on page 6

Crow Valley Campground owners Rindy (above) and Scott Wohlstadter have a lot to smile about, and they work hard to make sure their campers do, too. “The campground is a family place, and that is the most vital thing to both of us,” Rindy said.

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Owners Rindy, 55, and Scott Wohlstadter, 56, of Clinton, Iowa, have owned Crow Valley for almost 5 years; they also live there from Memorial Day through Labor Day, during the campground’s operating season. They’re the latest owners of the site, which has been around since the 1970s. Crow Valley offers both tent and RV sites for either short stays or long hauls. The RV sites can accommodate campers big and small. “To my knowledge, we are the only campground in Sterling/Rock Falls that still has tent camping,” Rindy said. “Our tent sites are right along the Rock River, too. If you want to go fishing, you can throw your line right from the campsite.” The campground also has a boat ramp where you can fish or shove off in a boat for some time on the river. Crow Valley is special, Rindy said, because “we’re right on the Rock River, which is awesome for fishing. There are over 100 species of fish, and it’s deemed one of the 20 cleanest rivers in the United States.” The Wohlstadters like to think of their business as more than just a campsite; it’s a community where people can make new friends or reconnect with old ones.

LEFT: Signs point the way to the various sites at Crow Valley, but the perhaps the most important sign on the grounds? The one that lists the campgrounds rules (above) – rules such as “nap often,” “watch the sunset,” “drink a cold one,” and “make memories.”

Continued on page 8

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The Wohlstadters enjoy meeting and greeting guests at their campground. Rindy tours the 40-acre riverside property (inset), and even though she’s seen the campground countless times, she still enjoys the view, especially the one below that she calls a “little slice of heaven.”

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Continued from page 6

They enjoy meeting their guests, many of whom are repeat customers who they know by name, and enjoy evenings sitting around a campfire with their fellow campers. The campground offers a long list of amenities, including WiFi, an outdoor pool, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, horseshoes, a playground, game room, dump station, family activities, and even a store when you can pick up camping supplies such as snacks, toiletries, worms, ice, and firewood. While you’re there, you might even catch a glimpse of a rare bird: a 6-foot tall crow. That’d be Mr. Crow, the campground’s mascot, who comes in for a landing from time to time and greets people. Don’t have a camper of your own? No problem. The Wohlstadters have three camper trailers available for rent. Crow Valley attracts customers from both near and far. “You would not believe the amount of people we get from the Chicago area who want to go tent camping and fishing,” Rindy said. “We have a wide variety of customers from seasonal sites, to those traveling through, to campers who are working in the area and are here for a month or so with their camper or RV.” The Wohlstadters’ journey from campers to campground owners started soon after they got married in 2012. They discussed early on things that they wanted to do at some point in their new life together. “I mentioned that I would like to own a campground, and he said he’d like that too,” Rindy said. The couple, both Rock Falls graduates, already had some experience in a family-owned business. Growing up, they both worked at their parents’ businesses. Scott’s parents, Jack and Shirley Wohlstadter, owned

SUBMITTED

From time to time, Crow Valley’s mascot, Mr. Crow, drops in for a visit. the A&W and Orange Bowl. Rindy’s parents, Charles and Doris Harper, owned Rack & Range and Dixie Cream Donuts. The two also were no strangers to camping. They had a travel trailer that they enjoyed taking all over the country to places as close as Thomson and as far away as South Dakota and Texas. In no time, the camping-loving couple began looking into developing their own campground closer to home.

Continued on page 9

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ABOVE: Crow Valley offers seasonal and nightly rentals with water and electric hookups for campers big and small, plus areas for tents.

MORE INFORMATION Crow Valley Campground 23807 Moline Road, Sterling Contact: 815-626-5376 or crowvalleycampground@gmail.com Online: crowvalleycampground.com and on Facebook Campsites can be booked online or by phone.

But their plan to start their own campground changed when opportunity knocked on their camper door and a site became available. A close friend of the Wohlstadters mentioned to Steve and Kathy Miller, then owners of Crow Valley Campground, that the couple was looking to start their own campground. It didn’t take long for the deal to come together and come Labor Day weekend 2014, the campground was theirs, a fitting time to take over since owning it has been a labor of love. When they first took over, they had to put some money and elbow grease into the campground. “The electrical panel was not up to par,” Rindi said. “We’ve had to reinvest a lot into the campground. We’ve redone many sites and we’ve many added sites” The Wohlstadters also added a “no sex offender policy” to uphold their number-one mission: keeping it all about family. When they first took over, their were only three children in their seasonal sites, a number that has since grown to 40. And they’re not done making the camp a darn site better. The couple plans to add more campsites and make other improvements – “keeping it great and refreshing everything,” Rindy said. It’s all part of their goal to make their extended family of customers feel right at home at their home away from home. “The campground is a family place, and that is the most vital thing to both of us,” Rindy said. n

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A Morrison woman is lending a hand

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Morrison woman is bringing new meaning to being a hands-on business owner.

Andrea Ramirez recently opened Embraced at 104 W. Main St., a business she describes as a “wellness hub” that addresses a need in her hometown “for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.” Whatever someone is struggling with, Ramirez wants to help – and she wants the healing process to come naturally. The shop offers herbal and holistic products, self-improvement services, and classes aimed at tapping into people’s inner energy. Want to hear more about sound therapy? Find out whether cannabidiol oils is right for you? Or maybe you’re looking for a way to experience some “natural Bohemian vibes” in a macrame class. Ramirez is ready to help. If it promotes a person’s wellbeing, then she’ll embrace it, and she hope customers do, too. Shelves are stocked with essential oils, CBD (cannabidiol) oils, diffusers, crystals, and other energy-boosting products, and if you’re not sure

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how to use them, help is close at hand. Customers can take classes on stress, anxiety, meditation, oil discipline, and more – all of which provide opportunities to connect with others and learn from Ramirez, a certified reiki master, who offers reiki sessions and one-on-one consultations. Reiki is a Japanese alternative healing technique based on the principle that a therapist can channel energy into their clients by means of touch – palm healing or laying of hands – to encourage a person’s natural healing processes and restore physical and emotional well-being. The word comes from two Japanese words: rei, which means “god’s wisdom or the higher power” and ki, which is “life force energy.” Embraced also has a drink stand with coffees, teas, smoothies, and other beverage. Ramirez said Morrison lacked a place for people to gather, have a healthy drink, and connect with one another, so she added it to her shop.  “We’re doing so much under one roof,” Ramirez said, but if you still can’t find what you need for that personal pick-me-up, then she’ll find someone who can. “If we can’t help you with it, we have the resources to put you in contact with someone who can.” Kerri Baker, a close friend of Ramirez’s for more than 8 years, works at the shop and said she enjoys helping customers “embrace a better you.” The pair said they love helping customers one-on-one to come up with a custom-made plan to problem-solve just about anything. Continued on page 15


Embraced is a onestop shop for emotional, physical and spiritual healing and recharging. Among its merchandise: CBD (cannabidiol) oils (top). The business also offers tea, coffee and smoothies at a drink stand (bottom).

A back room offers a relaxing space for reading or getting a reiki treatment.

Customers can still find jewelry at Embraced, located in the former longtime home of Quinn’s Jewelry, which closed last year. But don’t look for a line of precious stones. Instead, Embraced offers a line of rings (left) with healing crystals and stones, as well as earrings and necklaces – like the ones at right, with trees in their design – that reflect the store’s commitment to natural healing.

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Continued from page 12

Ramirez said she prioritizes “sourcing and knowing where our products come from. We use only good quality things that help others somehow.” Some of the products are about more than just profit. “There is so much that goes on behind the scenes,” Ramirez said. “For example, with our men’s line, a portion of the proceeds goes to mental illness organizations.” Her role as a business owner is just the latest step in a journey that began awhile ago for Ramirez, 39, who’s been tapping into positive vibes for years. She used to travel to hospitals, parties, and other businesses with a table display where she helped people get the energy boost they seek. “It was my way of doing what I was being called to do while still being a mom,” she said. Then, in November 2018, she struck oil. Ramirez started adding essential oils to her stock, and business took off. “The oils made it grow so much quicker that we needed a physical shop,” she said. Soon after, Ramirez and her husband, Christopher, bought the former Quinn’s Jewelry building to begin Embraced, opening their doors in June, where they soon found out that being in the former home of a downtown fixture for decades – Quinn’s was in business for 40 years before closing last year – comes with

MORE INFORMATION Embraced 104 W. Main St., Morrison, IL 815-680-6038 Online: embracedonline.com or find Embraced on Facebook Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., Monday and Tuesday; 5:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

Embraced is located at 104 W. Main St. in Morrison, in the former Quinn’s Jewelry building.

some built-in walk-in traffic. People still drop by with an occasional request to polish a wedding ring, unaware the Quinn’s closed. Though Ramirez can’t help with jewelry, she still hopes people will give her a ring, or stop by to see what her business has to offer. She said the shop has become something of a “family venture” since opening, with the couple’s eight children backing Mom’s mission to improve the well-being of their community. The kids “are my little salesmen,” Ramirez said. “They can tell you all about each product.”

Whether you come in for quick drink or want help coming up with a long-term plan to help yourself, Ramirez said she wants everyone who leaves her shop “feeling a little bit lighter.” Even the business’ name is nod to her mission of helping “connect the community for the betterment of the community,” Ramirez said. “We want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable coming in and hanging out in our shop, and we want to help people embrace who they are, their struggles, and their gifts.” “This,” Ramirez said,“is what I was called to do.” n

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Life

Arlett Steinert

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s n o s les LIVING Y | FOR SMALL TOWN STORY VIRGINIA RA

e how the he year was 1919. Notic lves? numbers repeat themse , ConIn that very special year t To Establish The gress established an Ac l Park Grand Canyon Nationa y Circus merged The Barnum and Baile Circus, and Harry with Ringling Brothers Grim Game.” Houdini starred in “The was signed, The Treaty of Versailles world war bringing an end to the the Allied Powers. between Germany and er joined the GerMeanwhile, Adolf Hitl d President Woodman Workers’ Party an bel Peace Prize row Wilson won the No

T

eodore RooA former president – Th re president – sevelt – died, and a futu rned to Tampico Ronald Reagan – retu with his family. the New York Babe Ruth was sold to binson was born Yankees and Jackie Ro o girls who would – and so, too, were tw hers who would grow up to become teac s on thousands of have positive influence uk Valley, inside lives throughout the Sa ssrooms, and conand outside of their cla ry role models in tinue to be extraordina is day. their communities to th

Continued on page 18

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Continued from page 17

Dorothy Ege was born Aug. 6 in rural Newton Township, just north of Erie in Whiteside County; Arlett Doll was born 20 days later in Sterling. Arlett’s parents were Adam and Marie Doll, first-generation Americans whose parents emigrated from Germany and originally settled in LaSalle and Cherry, before moving to Erie in the early 1900s to farm. Arlett attended her first eight grades at West Sand Ridge School; Dorothy was educated in the rural Erie School District. Both girls graduated from Erie High School in 1937. Not all friendships bloom with age. It is normal for things to change. But Arlett and Dorothy continued together along life’s long path. Both attended Blackburn College, a private liberal arts college in Colinville, between Springfield and St. Louis, and both attended Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa. Dorothy attended Blackburn from 1937 until 1939, later graduating from Marycrest. Arlett earned a teaching certificate from Blackburn in 1937 and returned to complete a degree in elementary education from Marycrest in 1971 What did these fine friends do with their educations? They returned to their home area and taught for decades.

Dorothy taught in area schools for 35 years. Arlett, who originally dreamed of being a home economics teacher, found herself teaching in a one-room-school from 1939 until 1941. She returned to teaching many years later when County Superintendent Loren Young asked Arlett to return to the classroom. At one time, she taught in the same classroom she attended when growing up. She taught first grade at the Newton and Fenton elementary buildings from 1961 until her retirement in 1978. Arlett and Dorothy contributed directly to generations of area families, while also raising their own.

Love and marriage

Arlett caught the eye of William C. Steinert, who came from Omaha, Nebraska, but navigated to the Midwest and graduated from Ottawa High School in Ottawa. From there, he attended and earned a degree in business and accounting from Blackburn College, where he and Arlett met. They married on June 21, 1941, in Erie, and moved to Ottawa, where they lived from 1941 to 1945, when they moved back to Erie and started farming. Before Bill retired in 1981, they raised three children: Paul, Gary, and Kathy. Paul married Marlene, Gary married Betty, and Kathy married Gary. Kathy was a teacher and now is a

travel consultant. Paul enjoyed farming and was also a draftsman in the Experimental Department at Case IH Moline Works. Gary was a teacher, school administrator, and the Whiteside Regional Superintendent of Schools. The Steinerts have six grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Bill died Feb. 5, 2012. Nine months and a day after Arlett and Bill were married, Dorothy married Robert Stone, on March 22, 1942, at Garden Plain Presbyterian Church, where they had been members for decades. Dorothy’s parents, Everett and Velma (Reynolds) Ege, were farmers on the family farm in Whiteside County’s Newton Township. Bob Stone captured Dorothy’s heart while he was in college, then fulfilled his duties to his country, as an Air Force navigator on a bomber during World War II. Bob flew 35 missions over enemy territory. News and personal letters were censored in those dangerous days. Dorothy knew that Bob had bailed out of his plane in Belgium, but no one knew of his condition or his whereabouts. Dorothy faithfully continued teaching at the Byers County school in Newton Township and worrying about Bob until one day in October 1944, when he called home from Rock Island. He had arrived home safely! Continued on page 19

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Arlett Steinert, who originally dreamed of being a home economics teacher, found herself teaching in a one-room-school from 1939 until 1941, then later returned to teaching. At one time, she taught in the same classroom she attended when growing up. This time it was first grade at the Newton and Fenton elementary schools from 1961 until her retirement in 1978. At left, Arlett poses with her first- and secondgrade class at Newton in 1962.

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Continued from page 18

Eventually, Bob created his own business, Stone Excavating, in which he dug basements and installed water lines. The Stones made time for fun, and one of their favorite ways to enjoy life and nature was to spend time camping, which they did in the 49 continental states. They also visited the home and family of their foreign exchange student in Costa Rica. Bob died Sept. 11, 2012, 7 months and 6 days after Bill. Bob and Dorothy had a son, Robert, a pediatric dentist, now of Plano who has provided the family with two grandchildren, four greatgrandchildren, and three step-granddaughters. When time allows, he pursues his passion for fishing, sometimes as far away as Canada.

School days

Many years ago, country school teachers also were school custodians, maintenance personnel, nurses, and kitchen aides. One of their duties was starting the furnace, around 7:30 a.m. on winter mornings. A large kerosene stove with a big boiler allowed Dorothy to warm soup for students. Good schools had blackboards and chalk to “talk.” There were pencil sharpeners for the lead pencils with attached erasers. One of Dorothy’s very special students was her younger brother, whom she taught in seventh and eighth grades.

Today

These days, both women are members of the Whiteside Retired Teachers’ Association and attend meetings faithfully. Arlett lives in the same Gordon Van Tine kit house her parents built when she was 3. Dorothy recently renewed her driver’s license. Growing up, these two ladies had no idea what life had in store for them, but their journey took them on remarkably similar paths, into the classroom and into the hearts and minds of countless students whose lives they helped shape. Today, the pair continues to teach – not in the classroom, but by the example they set and the life they lead. They teach us about the power of perseverance, a commitment to caring, and faith in friendship. Now that’s a class act worth celebrating. n Editor’s note: Virginia Ray is a member of the Whiteside Retired Teachers’ Association.

Memories

Glancing back at “the days of old,” Arlett remembers her three elementary teachers: Mildred Guthrie, Ruth Stoudt, and Ruth Eddie (Avery). Arlett also recalls walking 2 and a half miles to school her first year in high school. She and her friends carried their lunch to school and ate it in the study hall while the boys ate their lunch in the gym.

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The members of a local dance club are a bunch of Squares – and they’re darn proud of it. This swinging group has a grand old time keeping a centuries-old style of dance alive and well, and y’all are invited to join them

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rom experts who know exactly how to tie a ribbon ’round the old oak tree to those just looking to pick up a new weekend hobby, the members of the Morrison Grand Square Dance Club have been answering the calls for more than a decade, and there’s no sign that there feet will fail them now. The group will dance to “anything that has a good beat to it,” former co-president Jim Winslow said, “country, western, pop, we can dance to it all.” He and his wife, Janet, originally from Clinton, Iowa, co-founded the group, which today consists of about 50 regular members who meet from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Morrison’s Odell Public Library on the third Sunday of each month. Story continued on page 24; photos on page 23

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Take your partner ... Members of the Morrison Grand Squares bow to their partners during a recent club meeting at Odell Public Library.

TOP: Caller Jack O’Leary of Nevada, Iowa, provides direction during a square dance shindig at Odell Public Library. O’Leary calls for several clubs throughout the Midwest, which typically includes one visit per year to the Morrison Grand Squares. BOTTOM: Ann (center) and Butch (right) VanderSchaaf have served as presidents of the Morrison Grand Squares for the past 6 years.

Beth Sample of Cordova was all smiles during a recent round of dancing. Time on the floor is broken up with plenty of food and drink breaks, which also provide members time to socialize.

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Continued from page 21

A typical afternoon with the Grand Squares consists of about 4 minutes of “hash,” where “the caller calls different formations and movements, and you try to keep up with them,” Jim said. The caller is the head of the dance who makes the choreography and tells dancers what to do. After learning the movements, the group does a “singing call” where members dance to the song while the caller calls what they do. After a quick rest and snack from the many dishes that members bring, “we get up and dance again,” Jim said. The Grand Squares do “mainstream” dancing, which has around 63 different patterns. Guest callers come from near and far to share what they know and love about square dancing. The group also takes their show on the road to share their love of square dancing, and get other people hooked, too. “We do demos. Groups (schools, churches, etc.) invite us to come and teach lessons, or we participate in other clubs nearby,” Janet said.  You don’t have to be a member to attend the monthly dances; guests are welcome, too. Members of clubs from Clinton, Geneseo, and Preston sometimes attend Morrison meet-ups, and Morrison members attend theirs, too. So, if members are ever itching for more than one dance a month, they just head to another club for their square

dancing fix. The Winslows have been dancing since 2005, when they saw a newspaper article in the Clinton newspaper about a square dancing group there. Once they tried it, they were hooked. Square one for the group began in 2008, when Jim and Janet, along with friends – and first namesakes – Jim and Janet Fisher, attended the National Square Dancing Convention in Wichita, Kansas. After attending some classes and educational seminars, Janet Winslow said the Jims and Janets “realized we could start a group here.” From there, it was just a matter of finding others who enjoyed fancy footwork, which they did with an article in the newspaper. More than 30 people gathered for the first meeting of The Grand Squares in September 2008, and “we’ve been growing strong ever since,” Jim said. After serving as co-presidents of the club for a few years, the Winslows passed the reigns to Butch and Ann VanderSchaaf of Morrison, who are still the group’s presidents. But that doesn’t mean they’re done with dancing. They remain members and still love their do-si-do’s. They also serve as general chairs of the National Convention in Iowa. The group is always looking for new members to join their dance party. “It’s a very fun activity,” Janet said. “It’s great people, and it’s great exercise.” n

Jeri and Ron Lorenzen of Princeton make their way around the dance floor during a recent meeting of the Morrison Grand Squares

MORE INFORMATION Morrison Grand Squares square dance club Online: squaredancemorrison.com on Facebook at facebook.com/morrison.squares Meets from 2 to 4:30 p.m. the third Sunday of every month at Morrison’s Odell Public Library, 307 S. Madison St. Presidents: Butch & Ann VanderSchaaf. Contact: nerfs10@gmail. com or 815-772-3616

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Veterans helping veterans The ranks may be thinning for Sauk Valley Marine Detachment No. 913, but its members remain faithful to their mission of helping their fellow veterans

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ny good soldier knows that sometimes, you need reinforcements. That goes for veterans, too. That’s where Sauk Valley Marine Detachment No. 913 comes in. The group has been answering the call to help veterans for nearly 25 years. Junior Past Commandant Howard Gilispie, 65, of Sterling, is one of the group’s most active members. He said the group is made up of former and present Marines, mostly from Whiteside County but also a few from Carroll and Stephenson counties. Though the group is made up Marines, its mission is to help any veteran who needs it.

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Among the events the Sauk Valley Marine Detachment No. 913 takes part in is providing rifle salutes for veterans (below), and raising funds for its annual Bucket Brigade. “We make sure to help the families and provide the service that every veteran deserves at their funeral,” Junior Past Commandant Howard Gilispie said. TOP RIGHT: Tim Martin wasn’t going to let a thing like bad knees keep him from helping out a few years back with the Sauk Valley Marine Detachment’s Bucket Brigade fundraiser. He put on the knee braces and hit the streets in Sterling to raise money for the Detachment. BOTTOM RIGHT: Detachment member Esteban Ramos mans a bucket at the intersection of Third Street and First Avenue in Sterling in 2016. The group’s Bucket Brigade is one of the group’s biggest fundraisers. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Continued from page 25

“Any veteran that needs help, Marine or not, we try to provide what we can to help them out. Whether it be paying rent or a utility bill for them, if they’re in need, we try to help them,” Gilispie said. “We also help by recommending other agencies and companies they could be using that we know more about.” The group also donates to Wounded Warrior and Homes for Vets and participates in Honor Guard ceremonies for veterans. “We make sure to help the families and provide the service that every veteran deserves at their funeral,” Gilispie said. “If it’s a Marine that has passed, we provide casket guards.” Elsewhere on the homefront, Detachment No. 913 helps local kids. For years, members have raised money and collected toys for Toys for Tots. Last year, they gave toys to more than 200 children. “We like to collect cash more than Howard toys because all the local businesses give us a nice disGilispie count, and we’re a 503C organization so we’re able to provide the most toys for the money that way,” Gilispie said, adding that “we like to spend the money in local stores only.” However, because of the increasing age of members and decreasing membership in recent years, 2018’s Toys for Tots “really wore us out,” he said. “Whiteside County has picked up the fundraiser and found younger people to work it.” The detachment helps fund its mission with a Bucket Brigade, in which members are dispatched to the streets of Sterling and Rock Falls, buckets in hand, to raise money for the group’s Veterans Helping Veterans fund. Though the brigades have been a success, the group has had to cut down recently from two a year to one because fewer members have been able to help. The brigades are usually held on July Fourth weekend, but this year’s was Aug. 3.

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Continued on page 27

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MORE INFO The Sauk Valley Marine Detachment No 913 meets at 7 p.m. the third Monday of the month at the Rock Falls American Legion, 712 Fourth Ave. Want to join? Call Gilispie at 815590-0639 or come to a meeting a few minutes early to talk.

Continued from page 26

“Everyone that works our Bucket Brigades is over 70 years old,” Gilispie says. “We’re looking for some people to really step up in the next couple years.” And it’s not just the Brigade. The whole Detachment needs more people to step up. If they don’t, Gillespie only half joked, the group will live up to the Marines’ recruiting slogan, “The Few. The Proud,” in more ways than one. “Our membership is shrinking because we’re all over 65. The younger guys have families that keep them busy, and the older guys are becoming incapable due to health problems,” he said. It wasn’t long after the group formed in 1995 – after a few members of Dixon’s detachment

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branched off to start their own group in the Sterling/Rock Falls area – that its ranks had swollen to 75 members, “the largest I’ve seen,” Gilispie said. Today, Sauk Valley Marine Detachment No. 913 is about half that size, with nearly 45 members, only 10 of whom actively participate in the group’s events and meetings. Most of the Detachment’s events are manned by veterans; those “in active duty don’t participate unless they’re at home or on leave, of course,” Gilispie said, but all are still welcome to join. Gilispie served in the Marines from January 16, 1961, until July 17, 1968, when he decided he had done his duty. “When I first got out, I was a staff sergeant and could’ve been promoted, but I’d have to serve 2 more years. I didn’t want to because I was tired of going to Vietnam. I still had all my working parts, so I decided to stop.” He spent the next 50 years as a member of the Carpenters Union, and also has headed up Rock Falls Veterans Memorial Park, spending more than a thousand hours volunteering there. He didn’t join the Dixon detachment until 1988 and has been part of the Sauk Valley detachment since it started. Now, though, family demands and age have made time a premium for him, too, with three grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren wanting some time with Grandpa. Gilispie said he sees a lot of himself in other young Marine veterans because he too was hesitant to join the detachment with his two young children, Howard Jr. and Marsha, “hopping around in their sports and activities.” These days, though, the march of time has changed his perspective, and he encourages young members to join early and help out when they can. Whatever the future holds for Sauk Valley Marine Detachment No. 913, there’s one thing that won’t change: Members will continue their mission to help veterans, living up to the Marine motto … Always faithful. n

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