We grew up on the Rimersburg-New Bethlehem Road on a farm. I worked on the neighbors’ farm owned by Paul Kirkpatrick. He and his mischievous son, Mark, taught me a lot about farming.

I used to spend the night at my friend Ray Eakers’ house. His dad, John, mentored me on riding horses, farming and welding.

Our church, Oakwood, had the food booth at the Clarion County Fair. Sandy Barret, Janet Stuart, Elaine Sherry and many others taught me to work in the booth. I was also involved with 4-H, youth group and took swimming lessons at the Alcola park swimming pool. All of these leaders’ names escape me, but they were good mentors as well.

My sister, Sandi, took me with her boyfriends to Buttermilk Falls and the NuBe drag strip. My sister showed me a lot growing up, and was a great mentor for me.

My three favorite elementary school teachers were Mr. Keister (sixth grade), Mrs. Patterson (kindergarten) and Mrs. Wilson (fifth grade). They all taught me so much and, being colorblind, almost made me flunk kindergarten.

In ninth and 10th grades, I attended a private military school — Carson Long in New Bloomfield. The military maneuvers I learned there gave me a jump start when I joined the Army in 1982. Lieutenant Long took me under his wing there. He was the rifle and tennis team coach, and I joined both. He also had a farm nearby and I would go and work for him on the weekends. In the 1979 year, Three Mile Island happened and we were sent home for three weeks.

I attended RVHS in the other grades. Mr. Shoemaker taught typing. Mr. Burkett taught probability, calculus and trigonometry. Mr. Kundick taught math. Mr. Gourley taught science. All these are skills I still use today. Mr. Liska and Mr. Laughlin taught shop and it was at this point I decided to become a heavy equipment mechanic for my career. The guidance counselor was Mr. Mogle and he was fine with my decision not to go to college.

When I turned 16 my mother, Sally Minich, taught me to drive. She was recently separated from my father, and had a 1973 Ford LTD. It was a big boat. My mom influenced me more than anyone else and gave me the core values and morals I still believe in today. We lived in Elwood Neiswonger’s trailer court and he became my second father. My dad influenced me to join the Army after graduation and that is where I will start my next letter.

THERON R. WALLS

SCI Huntingdon

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