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Maugansville spirit resonates with Pride Day's chairman

'If you are going to live in a place, you should be part of the place'

September 02, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

MAUGANSVILLE -- It was a job that lured Bob Walton to the Hagerstown area 42 years ago.

It's the small-town sense of caring and community he found in Maugansville that led him to stay.

Walton, 68, lived in Dundalk, Md., near Baltimore, and worked for Burroughs, a business equipment manufacturer.

"I was a resident field engineer," Walton said. "Burroughs asked me to move from the city to the country to service the western point (of Maryland)."

Walton and his wife, Virginia, now 67, had just experienced a great personal loss and were ready for a change of scenery. Their 3-year-old daughter Roxanne, who'd never been well enough to go home from the hospital, had died.

"Everywhere we went, people said, 'How's your daughter?'" Walton said. "They meant well, but we thought it would be good to get away."

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Walton quickly met a lot of people though his work servicing equipment, mostly at banks, throughout the Western Maryland area. After two years living in Long Meadow, the couple moved to Maugansville.

"The very first time I took a walk around the village, I noticed the way people greet you and wave," he said. "In Baltimore, it wasn't like that."

Walton attributed some of that gracious spirit to the considerable Mennonite population at the time. It was a spirit that resonated with him, and he joined the Maugansville Ruritan in hopes of contributing to the good will.

Civic organizations and clubs Walton had belonged to in the city focused on their membership as part of larger organizations. While the Maugansville Ruritan is part of Ruritan National, the club "had its hand on the pulse of the local community," Walton said.

"We know who needs help with fuel, getting to the hospital, getting a cane, a walker. Anything the community needs, we lend a hand to see that they get it," he said. "I've been a part of many organizations, but that just blew me away."

Walton said he has a record of 39 years of perfect attendance with the Maugansville Ruritan, and he has served twice as president. He has been chairman of Maugansville Pride Day for 30 years. This year's event, featuring crafts, food and entertainment, is scheduled for Saturday.

"We raise funds through Pride Day," Walton said. "We give scholarships to high school students, maintain the park and our building. All the profit goes right back to serve the community."

In 1990, Walton found himself on the receiving end of Maugansville's giving spirit. He'd been employed by Burroughs, which had become Unisys, for more than 30 years when the company asked him to move back to the city.

"I didn't wish to be part of that program. I like it here," Walton said. "I chose to stay in Maugansville."

Without a job, Walton found himself surrounded by people who cared.

"A Mennonite neighbor knocked on my door and said if I needed anything -- food, clothes, money -- to let him know. A minister, not from my church, told me if I needed anything to give him a call," Walton said. "That made me feel really good."

Walton soon found work servicing computers at Citicorp with a company called BancTec.

Walton advanced his community involvement, becoming a charter member of the Maugansville Historical Society. He is an active member of a number of area gun clubs and serves as secretary of the Washington County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.

Walton attends Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hagerstown and volunteers in schools performing eye screenings for the Lions Club.

"To me, if you are going to live in a place, you should be part of the place," he said. "You should be part of trying to make it better for everybody to live in."

Though Maugansville does not have a local government structure, Walton's service to the town has earned him an unofficial title.

"The post office clerks, the people I see on the street, they call me the mayor," Walton said. "I am not the mayor, but I eat that kind of stuff up."

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