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Former Crestonian lives celebrated

The Gibson Memorial Library’s 4th annual cemetery walk was held Sunday

Judy Gile portrays Zelda Geis, whose headstone is seen in the background, during the rehearsal for the fourth annual cemetery walk at Calvary Cemetery in Creston Saturday. Rain forced the "walk" to move to the Holy Spirit Catholic Church Sunday.
Judy Gile portrays Zelda Geis, whose headstone is seen in the background, during the rehearsal for the fourth annual cemetery walk at Calvary Cemetery in Creston Saturday. Rain forced the "walk" to move to the Holy Spirit Catholic Church Sunday.

Seven Crestonians of the past came alive for an hour at Holy Spirit Catholic Church Sunday.

Hosted by The Gibson Memorial Library, the fourth annual cemetery walk, which had to be moved from Calvary Cemetery to inside the church due to rain, featured actors who portrayed these residents dressed in period clothing and speaking about their lives.

Susan Weight of the Friends of the Library, who did much of the research that went into the stories told, said she enjoys the process.

"I'm a retired librarian," Weight said, "I've spent a lot of time researching."

Weight used historical documents, newspapers and Harold Roberts' book of conversations to research the lives of six of the seven Crestonians. Former Gibson Library Director David Hargrove researched the seventh.

Attendees were treated to Wyatt Franklin's portrayal of Robert Spencer, who died at the age of 18 in 1950 due to a mysterious virus that claimed his life within a day. Spencer's father moved the family to town to manage the Strand movie theater. Many of his memories were about the theater and movies he'd seen.

Being an usher was considered a plum assignment due to the uniforms they wore. For 45 cents per ticket, patrons of the time could see movies such as "The Sands of Iwo Jima" or "Cinderella."

Franklin has been involved in drama his entire life, first appearing as an infant in a Veteran's Day celebration. He is now on the Creston Community High School speech team and has performed with the drama department several times. This is his second appearance in the cemetery walk.

Clint Williams and Becca Slick portrayed brother and sister Edward and Rosalie Pesick. The Pesick family of 10 children, one of whom died in childhood, lived their entire lives on the Pesick family farm, never marrying or having children. Edward left the farm only long enough to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II.

For an Iowa farm boy, taking care of the Army's thousands of mules felt like home, Williams, as Edward Pesick, said.

Edward lost his arm to a hay baling accident in 1970.

The Pesick family greatly supported St. Malachy school and the Holy Spirit Parish.

Williams and Slick both work at Southwestern Community College. Slick as the library assistant and Williams as the health, science and math department chair and biology instructor.

Deputy Sheriff Thomas Walsh, the first Union County police officer killed in the line of duty, was portrayed by Hargrove. Judy Gile played Zelda Geis who opened a jewelry store with her husband Elmer in 1944. Sandra Harris, in her first appearance at the cemetery walk, portrayed Dorothy Peak, a home economics teacher at Creston High School for 34 years. Spiv Williams had many careers in his life, including bootlegger and jukebox business owner. His story was told through the eyes of his wife Bernie and was portrayed by Midge Scurlock, a long-time educator for Creston Community Schools and supporter of Gibson Memorial Library among her other volunteer positions.

Funds raised from the cemetery walk will go towards the library's capital campaign, which Weight said is still pushing forward.

The scripts from the cemetery walk may eventually be made available through the library website. No date has been determined for their publishing. Contact the library for more information on the cemetery walk or the capital campaign.

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