Historical Society Board Members Retire After Long Tenures of Service
C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley
Constitution-Tribune, Friday, October 16, 2009

CAPTION: Dr. Frank Stark (left) accepts a plaque of appreciation from Marvin Holcer (right) for serving as president of the Grand River Historical Society for 26 years.

Two long-time officers of the Grand River Historical Society board of directors have retired. Dr. Frank Stark, who has served as president of the society for the last 26 years, and John Cook, who has served as treasurer since almost that long, have retired.

Both were presented with plaques of appreciation by interim board president Marvin Holcer on behalf of the board during the society's quarterly meeting Tuesday night at the American Legion Hall. Their departures follow last year's retirement of Dr. Jack Neal, who served as the museum's curator for 35 years.

"They provided wonderful help in getting the museum going," Neal said of Stark and Cook. "They were really steadfast and we really appreciate all they did for us."

Dr. Stark, a Carroll County native, moved to Chillicothe in 1960. He became a member of the Chillicothe Kiwanis Club and soon was recruited by fellow Kiwanian Dr. Neal to join the historical society. A few years later, Stark's wife, Jane, became the museum's co-curator and served in that capacity until her death in 1990. As president, Stark saw many changes within the museum, including construction of a new addition on the back side of the museum as well as the annex building to the east. Stark said a highlight during his tenure as president was receiving the Churchill parade truck, a 1932 Ford tractor and a 1934 trailer from Chillicothe-based Churchill Truck Lines which were often part of local parades. Other additions to an ever-expanding museum inventory included lighted display cases, the Miller Soda Fountain and much more. After 26 years as board president, Stark, 77, said it was time for him to step back, but complemented the board of directors. "They have always been easy to work with because they are interested in preserving the history of Chillicothe," he said. He also applauded the community support for the museum.

CAPTION: John Cook (left) accepts a plaque of appreciation from Marvin Holcer (right) for serving as treasurer of the Grand River Historical Society for many years.

Cook, a lifelong Chillicothe resident, took over the board's treasurer post from Charlie Adams. "Sometimes, you realize that there are things in Livingston County that future generations need to know about," Cook, 74, said. "Museums such as this can preserve some of what we have. If we can show what things were like in the past, it will help for the future."

With each passing year, bits of history are lost by those who pass away. But, with each passing year, the museum's inventory grows in an effort to preserve that history. For example, the old dental equipment from Dr. Lee Jackson's clinic is now displayed at the museum. That equipment is familiar to Cook. "Those things I remember when I used to go to the dentist, but some people don't know what it used to be like," Cook said. He also noted the Rainbo Bread screen door that is part of the museum's inventory. "At one time, there was a huge number of corner grocery stores in Chillicothe," said Cook, who worked at Cauffman's Grocery at the corner of McNally and Bryan streets in his early teenage years. "All of the grocery stores had those Rainbo Bread screen doors."

Cook, a certified public accountant who has been involved in a number of civic organizations - often serving as treasurer - said he was retiring from the historical society post because he wanted to slow down a bit. He plans to continue his involvement in Operation Help, a local organization which financially helps individuals and families in need. Cook said he has enjoyed his time on the board and has appreciated working with veteran society members Stark and Neal. "The museum has been a love of Dr. Stark and Dr. Neal," he said. "The amount of time they spent with the museum was overwhelming."

The society will install officers in January. Marvin Holcer currently serves as interim president, and Jerry Nibarger is serving as interim treasurer.

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