Traveling through the hill country of Rutherford Township, one can find the
Gregory Family Farm about two miles north from where the White River divides
Martin and Dubois counties. The farm has been owned and operated by Dan and
Barb Gregory since the 1970’s. Although geography has Dan and Barb’s farm
close to the edge of the county, there can be no question the Gregory’s
hearts lie deep within Martin County’s borders.
In addition to the demands of the farm, Dan and Barb invest a lot of time
participating in community and church organizations: St. John’s Church, St.
Vincent DePaul, 4-H, Farm Bureau, and Extension are just a small sample of
the Gregory’s County involvement. All of Dan and Barb’s efforts in the
community stem from a desire to help others. For the Gregory’s helping
others who are less fortunate is a family legacy. Within the Gregory family,
there are two sons, one daughter, and seven active grandchildren to keep
Barb busy as Dan serves as Martin County’s Commissioner and on many boards
(including seven years on our community foundation board).
The legacy starts with Joe and Hazel Gregory (Dan’s Parents.) Their values
were forged by what many say are the most trying times of this century.
They grew up in the Great Depression. Joe was the son of a tenant farmer,
who struggled to meet the basic need of the family. Hazel was the daughter
of a trucker who would take local livestock to market. “Dad learned the
lessons of hard work and being frugal with money,” says Dan. “He learned
that people needed to give and also receive as part of life and living.”
When World War II broke out, Joe enlisted in the army. He saw combat
surveying for the field artillery in North Africa, Italy, France, and
Germany. Hazel first went to work in a factory making ammunition for the
war, and later to the to the Gary, Indiana steel mills. The two married
when the war ended.
Although the Great Depression and World War II were things of the past, the
young couple still had trials to face. After finding work as a truck driver
in Chicago, Joe was hit head on by a car being pursued by the police. Joe’s
truck caught fire and he suffered severe burns to his legs. He spent 114
days in the hospital recovering. In the meantime, Hazel cared for her
injured husband and her young family. It was an extremely difficult time.
Several people gave support through this ordeal. Joe and Hazel never forgot
the feeling of receiving the good deeds of others.
Joe later moved the Gregory Family to Southern Indiana where he found work
in a trucking garage as a tire changer. (This was when 100lb tires were
changed with hand tools.) Dan recalls, “When dad was in his prime, he could
make you feel sorry for the hammer he used to change tires.” Joe led the
way for the employees of the garage to join the teamsters union, an activity
that didn’t make him popular with local business owners. Convinced that the
union was good for all of the garage workers, he persevered. Today, many
people have pensions and benefits because of the union Joe continuously
Joe and Hazel had a dream of owning a family farm. After some looking, they
found a place just north from where the White River separates Martin and
Dubois. “When they moved her from Haysville, Dad said he had a mortgage, a
wife, three kids, a collie with pups, an ax, and $14.00 to their name” says
Dan. Joe continued to work at the Garage so more earnings could go back
into the farm. Joe would work the farm in the mornings. Hazel would take
over the farm in the afternoon when Joe went to the garage.
Joe and Hazel became known in Martin County as successful, prosperous
people. Dan reflects on his parent’s early years, “Saving was important to
them, as they had the experience that an accident could happen at any time,
and they wanted to be prepared. They never forgot that people helped them
in their time of need. Often I saw them donate money to causes to help
others. Charity was something they felt privileged and obligated to do.”
The Gregory Family has been active in the foundation for 20 years.
Dan and Barb chose to honor and continue the Gregory Family legacy of
helping others by establishing the Gregory Humanitarian Fund with the
Martin County Community Foundation. “From $14.00 to forming a family fund
in a foundation gives us a great example to live by,” says Dan, “The
earnings on this fund will be helping people long after we are all gone.
There is great comfort in knowing our family has chosen to do this.”
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