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 lay 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.
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 it.
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 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
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. “
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
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