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Joe Skvarenina column - Feb. 16, 2013

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Joe Skvarenina column - Feb. 16, 2013

Worland has been active in community for decades

I went to a very interesting birthday celebration the other day with my wife at the old Masonic Building. It was for Walter Worland, and he is 90 years young.

Walter attended Greenfield schools. He was editor and published of the Hancock County Democrat newspaper. He also worked as a printer for the Greenfield Daily Reporter for 28 years. The office of the Hancock Democrat was on South Street where the Anglican Church is located today.

Walter was big in Democrat politics. In fact, he was on the back of the train platform to welcome President Truman into Greenfield. He served in the Greenfield City Council for 12 years.

Walter was very active in the community with the Elks, FOP and the American Legion Post 119. Walter served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He has been president of the Riley Old Home Society’s Santa’s Helpers and the Hancock Heart Association. He has been active in many Masonic organizations with leadership positions including  Hancock Lodge 101.

Walter has been an example of a leading citizen who cares about his community. We wish him many more productive years. By the way, if you haven’t been you should go inside the Masonic Building. Wonders have been done with it.

Do you know about the Mr. William A. Bixler’s painting of the “Old Swimmin Hole”? On Oct. 7, 1916, Greenfield had a homecoming for James Whitcomb Riley at which 1,000 schoolchildren strewed flowers in his pathway. Shortly afterward, William Bixler, an artist from Anderson, visited the community and was encouraged by local citizens to paint landmarks of the town. With Mr. Durbin Davis he visited the “Old Swimmin Hole.”

The painting was done for John Mitchell Jr. and was favorably commented upon, so Bixler eventually did another for Mr. Riley.

Bixler was also a poet, singer, photographer, teacher, writer and newspaperman. Bixler repainted 5,000 copies of his work by 1918, which appeared in school rooms across the United States. According to one newspaper story, “He was awfully sick of the picture, but he always keeps painting it because almost every day somebody pops up and wants another copy and is willing to pay for it.”

A Bixler painting hangs in the local history room at the Hancock County Public Library in Greenfield.

Enough. I have told you everything that I know and some things I don’t. Talk to me.

You can write to Joe Skvarenina at jskvarenina@hotmail.com or in care of the Daily Reporter at 22 W. New Road, Greenfield, Ind. 46140.

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