Hay honored as 50-year member of Hillcrest Grange
David R. Hay of Somerset received his "Golden Sheaf" certificate and 50-year pin for 50 years of continuous membership in the Hillcrest Grange and the Somerset County Pomona Grange at special ceremony May 8 in the social hall of Somerset Church of the Brethren (the honoree's church). Participating in the program and the presentation were the following Grangers from left: Klaus Schmidt, piano presentation; Leon W. Paul, Hillcrest Master; Hay, who joined Hillcrest in 1963; Emma Gene Engle, Hillcrest's long-time secretary; James F. Mowry, Pomona Grange Master, and Esther Mowry, vocalist. (Submitted photo / May 22, 2013)
David R. Hay of Somerset received the National Grange's "Golden Sheaf" certificate and a 50-year pin as one of several highlights of a county visitation program hosted by the Hillcrest Grange in the social hall of the Somerset Church of the Brethren. Hay joined the Hillcrest Grange as a teenager and attended his first meeting as a proposed member on May 8, 1963, which coincidentally was 50 years on the same evening Grangers and friends gathered to celebrate his half-century of membership.
The honoree also received a congratulatory letter from Carl Meiss, Master of the Pennsylvania State Grange.
Although "Keep on a Truckin" served as the official theme of the program, the honoree's favorite church hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness" was equally appropriate. It was originally intended to be the evening's theme until Hay rediscovered a picture of himself standing beside a vintage 1948, red pick-up truck produced the same year as his birth.
That classic photo was taken a decade ago while Hay and his wife, the former Virginia Long, were visiting in Normal, Ill., with Klaus Schmidt. Schmidt traveled back to Somerset County to perform special piano numbers as a contribution to the testimonial program. He's been a professor at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal since 2000 and prior to becoming a U.S. citizen, Klaus obtained both his master's and doctorate degrees at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
He's also been a member of the Hillcrest Grange since 1990, the same year the German native resided in the home of David and Virginia Hay for a 10-month period. While visiting his cousin, Schmidt began participating and winning Grange talent contests with his piano performances. On three occasions he won "Best of Show" during talent contests held by the Pennsylvania State Grange and in doing so had the privilege of representing Pennsylvania at three National Grange Talent festivals. He competed in Peoria, Ill.; Spokane, Wash., and Greensboro, N.C. winning first, third and second places respectively in those contests.
During Schmidt's 10 months in Somerset with his Pennsylvania cousin, a great friendship developed that has provided opportunities for the Schmidt family in Germany to visit in the USA and for the Hay family to visit numerous times in the farming villages of southwestern Germany with the Schmidt family and other relatives.
Stories of those visits as well as Hay's earlier years of participation in Hillcrest and Somerset County Pomona Grange were shared.
Special vocal selections were shared by Esther Mowry of Somerset, who in recent years has also received her 50-year-membership (Golden Sheaf) certificate. She sang "Climb Every Mountain" as well as "When You and I Were Young, Maggie" with Schmidt providing piano accompaniment.
David and Virginia Hay, who will be observing their 40th wedding anniversary on June 10, are both also Sixth and Seventh Degree members of the Pennsylvania and the National Grange in addition to being officers in Hillcrest and Somerset County Pomona Granges.
Erma Jacobs of Somerset delighted the audience by reciting the poem, "The Wild, White Rose." She also provided the invocation before the covered dish dinner and provided devotions to open the program.
Because Hay serves as Lecturer (program leader) of both Hillcrest and Somerset County Pomona Grange, he coordinated the celebration. Using the talents of the special musicians, he also wove the program around a large pictorial display featuring many special photos of county Grange families and special moments of Hillcrest members over the decades. He shared memories of the late Earl W. Sweitzer, a Hillcrest officer, who visited the honoree's parental farm in Brothersvalley Township during the spring of 1963 while participating in a membership drive.
Through that visit, Hay filled out an application to join Hillcrest Grange while his younger brother and sister, Dan and Mary Hay were excited about becoming charter members of the Hillcrest Grange, which was organized in August 1963. Dan Hay was the original Master while the organizers included Patricia Sperry, Emma Gene and Jack Engle, Marie and Jay Miller.
When Hay received his 25-year pin in 1988 from Leon W. Paul, Hillcrest Master, Earl W. Sweitzer was present to assist with the presentation. Twenty-five years later, Leon Paul (again Hillcrest Master) was assisted by Pomona Master Jim Mowry as well as Sweitzer's daughter, Emma Gene Engle (Hillcrest's long-time secretary) in presenting the "Golden Sheaf" certificate and pin to Hay.
A special printed program listed names of approximately 40 other Hillcrest members who have received the "Golden Sheaf" certificate in past years for their 50 years of continuous membership.
Those living and the years they joined the Order of Patrons of Husbandry include: Jean Shaffer (1943); Emily Fritz (1953); Emma Gene Engle (1958); Dorothy Jane Paul (1959); Leon W. Paul (1960); Dalton E. Paul (1960), Doyle E. and Donna Paul (both 1960), Fay Walker (1961), and F. Carl Walker (1962). During the summer of 2013, Cecil Jr. and Carol Petenbrink will also receive "Golden Sheaf" certificates.
Piano presentations by Dr. Klaus Schmidt included El Puerto by Isaak Albeniz and Tempest Sonata (3rd Movement) by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Kathy Blough joined the honoree in presenting a skit, "It Was a Nail" which Hay participated in during his early attendance at 1963 meetings — times he recalled as being "a shy kid who preferred to hide behind other patrons in the meeting hall."
Hay shared about using the Grange organization as a ladder or stepping stone to leadership positions, employment and later having the opportunity to serve on the PA State Grange Lecturer's Committee for 16 years. He's served as Hillcrest's publicity agent for 48 years and as Hillcrest's program leader for 40 of the past 43 years. After serving 1968-1970 in the U.S. Army, he returned home in 1970 to begin years of coordinating programs for Hillcrest Grange.
Hay shared about early involvement with Hillcrest Grangers, where he learned to know, love and become a historian for the home farming community in southern Brothersvalley Township, where he was raised on "Blue Lick Valley Farm." Hillcrest Grange has been part of that community for the past 97 years, having been organized on March 16, 1916 with 57 charter members. One of the charter members was Hay's paternal grandfather, the late J. Nevin Hay, who was only active for a few years.
Somerset County Pomona Grangers will also be hosting a multi-counties Grange program and picnic beginning at 2 p.m. June 9 at the Mt. Laurel United Church of Christ fellowship hall and picnic grove near Gray. The Rev. Dr. Joseph Beers will portray Harmon Husband that day while other entertainment will be provided by Cambria, Blair, Bedford, Huntingdon and Somerset counties. The event culminates with a covered-dish picnic that begins at 4 p.m.