Many in the Dalton community are familiar with the presence and contributions of Dick and Gertrude Blake, who have recently been nominated grand marshals of the Dalton Holidays Festival Parade. They have humbly accepted this honor and look forward to sharing their story as plans for the festival continue to progress.
Dick was born and raised in Wooster. He is a veteran of the Marines, and during his time of service he traveled in Europe and North Africa as an air to ground communicator. Upon returning from the service, he graduated from Wittenburg University in Springfield, with a degree in education/math/physics, and a variety of other interests as well. He was an educator and coach of several disciplines and sports in his early career, but retired after 22 years as a plant manager of Louisiana Pacific. He also has been an officiator for sports in the local area. His hobbies include: golfing, fishing, and “spoiling his grandchildren.”
Gert’s hometown of Green Township in Mahoning County was similar to what she has found in Dalton. She is also a graduate from Wittenburg College, with a degree in education with concentrations in home economics and physical education. She has found most worthwhile her opportunity to be a homemaker for her family. In addition to some time as a full-time teacher in Clark County, she is well-known as a substitute teacher, including 22 years in Wayne County Schools. Gert has a reputation in the community for her many talents. She has sown by hand and machine countless projects for Dalton school events, including dresses for the show choir, the first warm-up suits for the cheerleaders, alterations to band uniforms and dresses for formal dances. Gert has served as a 4-H advisor, room mother and cub scout den mother.
Dick and Gert met at Wittenburg, and will have been married 55 years this August. They began their married life for a brief time in Randolph, then spent some time in Stow before settling in Dalton. They have three sons – Bruce, Ben and Budd – all graduates of Dalton High School, and eight grandchildren. Shared hobbies for the couple include: a daily walk to the post office, attending local sporting events, doing jigsaw puzzles in the winter, and reading. Over the years, they have been faithfully involved with Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Massillon. Dick has served as a lay leader, Eucharistic minister, on council, and as the youth minister. Gert has been involved with the altar guild, vacation bible school, Sunday school, on the council and the women’s ministry. Dick and Gert are also known to regularly donate when the bloodmobile is in the area.
The couple admittedly treasure the home they found since moving to Dalton nearly 40 years ago. In particular, they appreciate the “caring, thoughtful, and kind people” they have met over the years. Gert reflects that she feels honored that the Dalton Holidays Festival committee believes they have made a worthwhile contribution to the community. The committee, along with the rest of the community, responds with gratitude to the Blakes - for adopting Wayne County as their home, donating hours of volunteerism and involvement with the schools, and for their commitment to the community. The Dalton Holidays Festival looks forward to honoring their contributions.