Trout Days committee selects deserving couple to serve as grand marshals

CHARLIE WARNER/NEWS LEADER Pat and Ron Scheevel of rural Preston will be serving as the grand marshals of the Preston Trout Days Parade, which will be held Saturday, May 18, beginning at 4 p.m.
Charlie Warner

When the annual Preston Trout Days parade gets underway on Saturday, May 18, two people who have donated countless years of their lives for the betterment of their community will be leading that parade. Ron and Pat Scheevel will serve as parade grand marshals and, according to the selection committee, the couple is well deserving of the honor.

In announcing this year’s honorees, the selection committee stated, “The Scheevels are longtime Preston area residents and business owners who have contributed in many ways to the Preston community. Both have given back to various Preston organizations and focused many of their efforts on the local Preston veterans organizations. Ron, a US Vietnam Veteran, has also been a co-chair of the recent Preston veteran home project in Preston. We thank them both for helping make Preston a better place to live and work.”

“It’s a great honor to be named grand marshals,” Ron said. “We certainly didn’t expect it. There are a lot of folks out there who promote their community.”

“When I was told about the selection, I asked, ‘Isn’t there someone else out there that’s more deserving?’” Pat added.

The Scheevels have basically spent their entire lives in the Preston area. Ron was born and raised on the family farm located south of Preston. “I’ve lived here all but two of my 72 years,” he said. “The two years I was in the service was the only time I was away from home.”

Pat (Hellickson) was also born and raised in the Preston area, on a farm just a mile or so from the Scheevel farm. Both Pat and Ron are graduates of the former Preston High School.

Ron answered Uncle Sam’s call and served overseas in 1967 and 1968. He returned to the home farm and married Pat in 1970. The Scheevels raised three sons, Eric, Aaron and Nat. Aaron and his wife, Emily, are partners in Scheevel Excavating with Ron and Pat. Eric runs the Scheevel farm and Nat is a civil engineer in California. Ron and Pat also have eight grandchildren.

Ron and Pat ran the family farm until 1991 when Ron started the excavating company. He bought an old D-6 Cat and started building terraces and waterways for the Soil and Water Conservation District. Over the next 28 years, Scheevel Excavating has become a very viable business, serving customers in a 40-mile radius in southeastern Minnesota and northeastern Iowa. Scheevel Excavating employs three full-time and two part-time employees.

Following his honorable discharge in 1968, Ron has immersed himself in numerous veterans’ causes. He is a life-long member of the Preston VFW. He has been a member of the Preston American Legion for 46 years. He has served as post commander of both the VFW and the American Legion. He has been a member of the color guard and a member of the Southeast Minnesota Memorial Rifle Squad, which performs at every funeral service at the Minnesota State Veterans’ Cemetery in Preston. He and Don Gildner have served as co-chairmen for the proposed Minnesota State Veterans’ Home, which if all goes as planned will be located on the top of the north hill overlooking Preston.

“The Preston area has always been home to me,” Ron said. “When I was in Vietnam, I received care packages from home, sometime with photos. Several showed the rolling hills with the terraced fields of oats, alfalfa and corn. When I saw those photos and compared them to where I was at in Southeast Asia, I knew there was no place like home.”

Pat has also been very active in various organizations and groups in the Preston area. Being the wife of a veteran, she became a member of the Preston VFW Auxiliary, where she served as Auxiliary treasurer and also as the president of the veterans scholarship committee for 10 years. She also served on the Carimona Township Community Chest Committee and also on the Christ Lutheran Church Youth and Church Councils.

Ron also served as president of the Preston Area Community Foundation, which he said was a very rewarding experience. “I would certainly serve on this committee again,” he said. “They do so much for the community and the Fillmore Central Schools.”

Both Ron and Pat served as 4-H leaders when their three sons were active in 4-H and also in the Fillmore Central Boosters Club, as their grandchildren are now very active in Falcon activities.

Recently, Ron and Pat answered the call when a group of about three dozen Preston area residents decided they wanted the Branding Iron to remain open and pledged financial support to the popular dining venue.

When asked why they have been so active in their community, Ron replied, “Most of my memories from my life are right here. This is home. My neighbors are my friends. They are all so caring.”

“I like to support this community because people always turn out to help each other,” Pat added. “I don’t think you’d see that as much in larger cities. If there is a tragedy here, people will do whatever it takes to help their neighbors. This is just a great place to live.”