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Grand Marshals chosen for 2018 Red Flannel Festival

Bob and Betty Truesdale are this year’s Grand Marshals of the Red Flannel Festival. Courtesy photo.

By Judy Reed

Bob and Betty Truesdale, of Cedar Springs, have been chosen as Grand Marshals for the 79th annual Red Flannel Festival. They own the Amish Warehouse at 141 S. Main Street.

“We chose Bob and Betty for the Grand Marshals because of their long history in Cedar Spring and the love they have for the festival,” explained Nancy Deyman, President of the Red Flannel Festival board.

This year’s theme is “Step back in time.” And you can certainly do that when talking to Bob and Betty!

Bob was born a mile north of Pine Lake to Eula Eldred Truesdale, who was a rural schoolteacher for 30-plus years. It was just Bob and his mom, in those early years, and he often traveled with her to the rural schools she taught at in and around Cedar Springs and helped by building the morning fires. 

He first met Betty, the daughter of James and Dorothy Albright, of Ravenna, at a church rally in Rockford, when she was a freshman in high school. “He had a date but I flirted with him,” she said.

They went their separate ways but later reconnected at Spring Arbor High School, a Christian school that later became Spring Arbor University, and eventually married.

The couple spent four years on a reservation in Alberta, Canada, from 1960-64, where they helped build a church. “Bob was a lay preacher there,” explained Betty. “The kids say it was the highlight of their lives. We have wonderful friends up there.”

Bob said he has been an entrepreneur most of his life. He worked for the Rand Corporation selling typewriters, mechanical calculators, etc. He then created his own business, Mr. Dictate, and later sold it. He then went to work for Peter Secchia as director of maintenance for a line of restaurants and wood products. He has now been selling Amish furniture for 25 years. 

Betty stayed home with their four children—Dean, Vicki, Collette, and Dan—for 23 years. She also worked for INA, which later merged with another company and became Cigna.

The two have always attended the Red Flannel Festival and been big supporters of the event. They have also been active in other areas of the community. Bob served on both the City Council and Planning Commission. While on the City Council, he brought to the board the possibility of bringing the Kent County Sheriff’s Office in to do the policing here. Kent County Sheriff Larry Stelma, also a Cedar Springs resident, presented a plan to Council for a partnership between the two entities, and it was approved. The plan was eventually implemented with great success. 

“It was the highlight of Bob’s political career,” remarked Betty.

Bob wasn’t the only one that dabbled in politics. Betty served on the Courtland Township board for a year. “I found politics wasn’t for me,” she said.

Betty was treasurer of the Community Building Development Team for three years, and Bob was also a part of the team. But they had to drop that when they began spending part of their time in Marshall, with family. They have also always been busy with their church activity at Pilgrim Bible. 

How did Bob feel when he was told they had been selected as Grand Marshals? “I felt like there must be some mistake. We are only commoners. I’m humbled. It’s a great honor. It excites me and pleases me that we have so many friends in Cedar Springs and we are proud to serve as Grand Marshals.”

Red Flannel Day will be Saturday, October 6, 2018. Watch the Post for more information about this year’s activities.

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