A bright spot in our community helps out at the School House Park

When you come into Philip on Highway 73 there are big pots filled with pretty colorful flowers that sit in front of an old school house and log cabin on the east side of the road. This very nice little park is called the School House Park. Across the road to the west is a cement walkway that many enjoy using as they walk through town and the park just adds to scenery. A sign was recently made thanks to Gloria French. Gloria recruited the help of Barr’s Signs and Edna and Barry Knutson. Between the two parties it has been completed. “I have been wanting to have a sign made for this park for a number of years, and I am so glad we got it done,” said French. 
“The park has been in existence for quite some time and has a number of people (to numerous to mention) that help out with maintenance,” stated Gloria. "I know that Mike West still takes care of the flag there. Without the work of Mike and Marcia West, the AARP, and RTA local association member’s longtime commitment to help, I don’t believe this park would still be put together like it is,” Said French. 
“I got involved in the local AARP Association through dancing, about 14 years ago,” said French. “There were AARP dances sponsored by the Bad River Dance Club around the area and Lee Schoniger asked if I wanted to be a part of the organization and attend their functions. So many people had such a great time for a number of years”
Maintaining the park takes a number of people. “Right now, Gary Phillips helps out with the flowers that are so beautiful in front of the park,” said French. "Kay Ainslie has helped so much there and I just kind of came in and started helping and fell in love with the idea of the project.” Dennis and Sandra Heaton help with watering the flowers and other things that need done according to French. “The city crew mows the area and has helped out a lot in and around the park,” said French. Gloria said that she has painted the school house once and also put a coat of primer on it and it is ready for a new coat of paint. Gloria can’t paint it anymore, but she commented that if there is a sparkle in someones eye to do so, it sure could use painted again.
Many people in the area recognize Gloria French for her help in pulling weeds in residential yards and around businesses throughout the town. Gloria was asked if she has pulled weeds on every block in the town of Philip. “I don’t believe so, but I am sorry . . . . . when I see a weed, it’s like the devil is in church, you have to get rid of them!” Gloria has pulled weeds throughout the town, stopping at random places her eyes spot weeds, then pretty soon you will see a pile of weeds stacked neatly in a pile. “I have helped at the Fire Hall Park and the Kiddie Park down by the swimming pool,” said French. “Pulling weeds is not work for me, it’s therapy,” she said. One day Gloria was pulling “Those dang goat heads” between the newspaper office and the post office, and something shiny and bright was under a weed. It turned out to be a gold necklace with a diamond in it. Norm Payne was driving the bus to Rapid then and he said he would take it to a jeweler and see if the diamond was real. “It was a real diamond and real gold,” said French, “ and now I wear a $600 gold necklace with a beautiful diamond around my neck.” You never know what you will find underneath weeds,” she said.
It was sad for Gloria to say that her balance is not as good as it once was and she hasn’t been able to go on bike rides. As many miles as she has put on her bike, it has been her only one. “I have just had the one bike, and it’s 54 years old,” said French. “My husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said a bicycle. . . . with a basket on it!” Gloria wanted a bike so she could go riding with her girls. It is an original, blue, well made Schwinn bike she said. Gloria almost lost her bike a number of years ago. “When I lived in Huron, it was stolen from me,” said French. “A while later I found my bike laying in a yard. . . . . and well, I just stole it back, and I have kept it safe every since.” 
Although Gloria might be slowing down a little she still has the drive to get outside. “Just a few days ago, I asked two of my friends if they wanted to go play in the dirt with me, and they did,” Gloria said. “We picked a lot of weeds that day and had a great visit while doing so.”
Crocheting is still a part of Gloria’s life. She was given a little dress that was crocheted and was going to be sold at a household sale years ago. She is still using that dress as a pattern to make her own little dresses as gifts. 
Gloria said that she has so enjoyed the 20 years she has spent in Philip and what a great idea her daughter had to have her retire out to the west side of the state and live in Philip. 
“The people are so kind here,” she said, “and they have been great to me.” 
“I have been blessed with great family and friends here in this community.”

The Pioneer Review

221 E. Oak Street
Philip, SD 57567
Telephone: (605) 859-2516
E Mail: ads@pioneer-review.com

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