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Grand marshals 'blessed' to call Delta home

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Arlene and Bob McGarvin

Newlyweds Bob and Arlene McGarvin arrived in Delta fresh out of college in the fall of 1958. In the intervening years, they have contributed greatly to the community, earning the beloved couple recognition as the Deltarado Days parade grand marshals.

The McGarvins met while attending college in Gunnison. After graduation, Bob was hired to teach fine arts at Delta High School and Delta Junior High School. He also coached football, basketball and track. He was fortunate to be part of the DHS coaching staff when the Panthers won the state football championship in 1960.

While on a year's educational leave a few years later, the young couple realized how much they missed the Delta community, their friends here, and western Colorado's beautiful mountain country. They were happy to be able to return to Delta, settle down to build a home and raise a family.

School administrators cautioned all teachers to be good role models, and to avoid smoking and drinking in public. Fortunately, Deltarado Days offered good, clean fun for the entire family. Some of their special memories revolve around Deltarado Days with the parades, barbecues and rodeos.

As an art teacher, Bob was sometimes called upon to take on unusual duties, such as painting the high school drums and scoreboard and judging one of the parades. One superintendent of schools thought he'd make a great judge for a dog show held in conjunction with Deltarado Days. Bob and Arlene are still trying to make sense of that request!

Another year, he and his students built a nine-foot papier maché cowboy mannequin to be installed on Main Street for the celebration. Davis Clothing provided an extra long pair of Levi's; for a shirt the students wrapped cloth around the cowboy's torso. Before the big event, however, a man who had been drinking bumped into the cowboy, dislodging some of the fabric. The drunk apparently decided the cowboy was spoiling for a fight. It's not known who prevailed, but that was the end of that project!

In 1966 Bob was offered a position as an elementary principal at Garnet Mesa and Lincoln schools. He enjoyed spending time on the playground with the kids. With two young girls, their lives revolved around school life.

Arlene recalls opening her kitchen cupboard only to find some of her cookware, measuring cups, and even a mixer missing. Bob had carted them off to school for some art project.

For 10 years, Bob simultaneously served as principal for Garnet Mesa, which held grades K-4, and Lincoln, which was still at the base of Grand Mesa with grades 5-6.

He finally retired after 30 years with Delta County School District. After that he worked briefly at Norwest Bank meeting with farmers and ranchers. He liked that, too, and thought he might have also enjoyed doing that for a career.

During those years, Arlene held various jobs with the school district, U.S. Forest Service and University of Idaho. She retired after 10 years as human resource manager at Delta County Memorial Hospital. She says her favorite job was being a stay-at-home mom during the early years of her children's lives.

Both of their daughters, Janna McGarvin Burk and Kristen McGarvin Namminga, are graduates of DHS. The McGarvins have four grandchildren.

After retirement they purchased a motor home and alternated two months on the road and two months at home. They traveled 40,000 miles in four years, leaving just one state on their bucket list -- Rhode Island.

The McGarvins have remained active throughout their years in Delta with school and community activities. They have been members of the Delta Presbyterian Church for over 50 years, Bob is a 50-year member of the Delta Rotary Club, and Arlene a 48-year member of Chapter BK, PEO. They supported and participated in their daughters' activities in school, church, Girl Scouts and 4-H.

Although they no longer know everybody they meet on the street or in the grocery store, they agree that spending their married life in Delta has been a blessing. "We cannot imagine a finer place to live and raise our family," Arlene said.

Bob especially enjoys having former students stop him to discuss their memories from Delta school days, even sometimes showing appreciation for his guidance and hands-on discipline. He generally remembers the faces, if not the names, of each. These are the special rewards for those who have chosen a career in education.

Both Bob and Arlene appreciate the special invitations to attend 50-year DHS class reunions, and are looking forward to gathering with the DHS graduates of 1967 during Deltarado Days.

While they have put their house on the market, they don't plan on straying too far from Delta. They recently built a cabin near Gunnison, which they enjoy during the summer, but they agree the subzero winter temperatures are "not near as romantic as when we were 20."

While a bit embarrassed to be singled out, the McGarvins are looking forward to meeting friends old and new at the farmer-rancher luncheon, during the parade and at the rodeo.

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