HAWARDEN—Some people leave a lasting impression on a community.
Larry Epperly of Hawarden is one of those people, being a well-known community volunteer and member of the Fraternal Order of Eagle.
However, Epperly is leaving the community he has called home for nearly 40 years.
The Fraternal Order of Eagle wants to showcase all Epperly has done throughout his time as a citizen in Hawarden in a celebration 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at the Eagles Club.
“I was involved in several of the same organizations Larry organized,” said Sue DeJong from the Eagles Club. “His hard work and dedication to the town, the chamber, the Jaycees and especially the Big Sioux River Days celebration was not unnoticed. We just want to show appreciation to him.”
Epperly moved to Hawarden in 1980 to manage the Hawarden and Sioux Center K-Products plants. When he arrived, he quickly became involved in community activities and made a name for himself. He was active in the Labor Day celebration for several years, was part of a committee that headed the WeeCare Inc. project, was an active member in the Boarder Bandits Car Club, the Hawarden Jaycees and still is today a member of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles.
He is humbled by the fact that people in Hawarden want to pay tribute to him.
“Scared and warm and fuzzy at the same time,” Epperly chuckled, when asked how this makes him feel.
For Epperly, his greatest joy was when the Hawarden Chamber of Commerce named him the 1985 Citizen of the Year.
“Getting Citizen of the Year was my proudest moment,” Epperly said. “I was the coordinator for the second RAGBRAI we had in town. We have had three.”
RAGBRAI stands for Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Being fairly new to town, Epperly figures that’s why he was asked to organize the event. But others said it was because of his leadership, organizational ability and the cooperation of several organizations, churches, city government and individuals that event was unforgettable to many.
Epperly also became president of the Hawarden Chamber of Commerce in 1986 after Gary Salberg.
“I was chamber president for two years,” Epperly said. “It’s the only time in their history they ever had the same president for two years.”
Epperly thinks it is time to move closer to his family and return to his roots in Glidden. While he is excited about the move, he does admit it is difficult to leave the town.
“The hardest part is going to be leaving the people of Hawarden,” Epperly said. “I walked through the grocery store the other day and I knew everybody in there. Now, I am moving to a place where only my family knows me, that will be the tough part.”
His relationship with several members from the Eagles Club he describes as his family. Like any membership organization and family, Epperly said they have had their “squawbbles,” but he will genuinely miss them.
With the community visioning meeting happening Oct. 23 at the Hawarden Community Center, Epperly thinks that at the top of the list to keep Hawarden moving forward, the city should hire a community economic developer.
“Hawarden has a lot of positive features. I could start naming them off that other communities could possibly sell if they were us,” Epperly said. “The point being, we don’t have anybody out selling it. Who cares if we have city-owned utilities and the opportunities that would afford a business if we don’t have anybody out selling that. Our community has fallen flat on it’s face as far as promoting it. We have laid down; we accept the fact that we are a bedroom community. When I came to this town 38 years ago, our Main Street was a mall. Now we are a strip mall. Somethings dictate that — the internet not having sales tax, big box stores, many things. We need a community economic developer, but we don’t need someone fresh out of college; we need an experienced community development director, one with contacts.”
Epperly remembers the 2010 community visioning meeting, he fondly remembers the community had most of the same issues written down and he advises the community to stand-up for the knowledge they have for their own community and participate.