Tuesday, May 26, 2009

2009 Marigold Festival Grand Marshals: Larry & Willowdean Stone

Larry and Willowdean Stone came to Pekin in August of 1952. Larry began teaching History and American Government at Pekin Community High School, then became a counselor, followed by Principal of the West Campus. He retired from PCHS 36 years later and worked for 3 more years for the ISBE as a vocational coordinator. Larry is a member of the Illinois Retired Teachers Association and a member of the Tazewell County Retired Teachers Association, receiving the ‘Retired Teacher of the Year’ award in 2006.

In the early 50’s, he worked with Rev. Entwistle and Lester Foote in setting up a Civil Defense System for the City of Pekin (defense vs. a possible nuclear attack from the USSR). Larry also was on the committee to establish the first Group Home in Pekin. He started the Key Club within PCHS.

Larry has enjoyed serving on many committees and boards including: Tazewell County Branch of the American Cancer Society; Tazewell County Mental Health Board; Pekin Library Board for 17 years (President for 8); Pekin Kiwanis Club since 1974 (serving as President and Lt. Governor of Div. 20). He started the ‘Car Seat Distribution Program’ within Division 20, which remains a strong program today. Larry was awarded the ‘Hixson Fellowship Award’ by his club and Kiwanis International. Larry was an escort at the Pekin Hospital for five years and he and Willowdean were active member of the Douglas School PTA.

Larry is a life member of The American Legion (having served as a combat soldier in Patton’s Third Army during WWII). He is also a 32nd degree Mason and belongs to the Empire Lodge #126 in Pekin and to the Peoria Consistory. He is a member of the Pekin Park District’s Computer Club and an honorary member of the Pekin Altrusa Club. He has been the commencement speaker several times for Rankin and South Pekin Schools.

Larry has been involved in music most of his life. He sings in the church choir, and stepped out into the community by being a part of the Pekin Civic Chorus under the direction of Harry Langley and Don Valenti, often as a soloist. He and Willowdean are sponsors of the Pekin Community Concerts.

Willowdean has been a nurse for 40 years in many areas of the hospital including: Assistant Supervisor on a Surgical Unit and 2 years as a Nursing Care Manager in a Surgical Unit; Supervisor in Pediatrics at Pekin Hospital; and, she taught Nursing at St. Francis Hospital for 25 years.

She has been a Brownie and Girl Scout Leader serving on the Girl Scout Board and writing the weekly scout articles for the Pekin Times.

Willowdean actively participates with many organizations including: the Altrusa Club, being a member for 40 years (President and other offices and chairs); ANA/INA professional organizations (President, Treasurer and other offices); YWCA and Y-Reserves. Being very outgoing, Willowdean has tried to encourage others by helping people get their GED. She loved to read to the children at the Y Daycare, visit Nursing Homes and send cards to brighten their days. She has received the ‘Outstanding Achievement Award for Community Service’ in 2005 from the YWCA.

Willowdean’s church activities have been very close to her heart as well. She has been active in Church Women United (President and other offices), and was chosen ‘Valiant Woman’. She has been a part of providing a dinner a month at the Rust Transitional Center and started the ‘Angel Tree’ Program providing Christmas gifts to children who might not receive anything at all. She has received the ‘Mission Award of the Year’ at the local and district level in the United Methodist Church for her achievements.

Larry and Willowdean have been members of the Grace United Methodist Church since 1952 and have served on various committees ~ having chaired all of them at one time or another. Larry was the Director of Youth when they first joined the church. They have, and continue to, enjoy teaching Sunday School classes of all ages, Bible School and leading Bible Studies. Both have served as Certified Lay Speakers in the church as well.

Larry and Willowdean are both members of Friends of the Library. Willowdean served on their board and was Director of the Great Decisions Program with Larry being a presenter and discussion leader.

They are the parents of two daughters, Susan Stone-Yeck (deceased) and grandparents of her children Katherine Rose Stone-Yeck (18) of New York, and Addison Ferrill Stone-Yeck (23) of Staten Island, New York. Daughter Julia Ann Espe lives in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and is presently Assistant Superintendent of Education. Julia has three children, Gwendolyn Buchanan Miller (Jonathan) of New Jersey who has the Stones only Great-grandchild, Madelyne (5); Son James is an artist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and youngest daughter Elizabeth is finishing her Library training while working in the educational field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Needless to say, the Stones are very proud of their family, and Willowdean is traveling to New York for the graduation of Katherine Rose quite soon.

Individually or together, this couple has blessed our community in so many ways, and now they will serve as Grand Marshals of the 2009 Pekin Marigold Festival.