Prior to 1980, three historical societies were formed in Grove City, each with a specific purpose.

Prior to 1980, three historical societies were formed in Grove City, each with a specific purpose.

When the reason those groups came into being became a thing of the past, so did they.

When land for what became Gantz Park was donated to Grove City in the early 1980s, officials planned to tear down the old farmhouse, and again history buffs and preservationists rallied around a cause. They achieved their goal, but then failed to fade away as their predecessors had.

"We wanted this one to last," recalled Marilyn Gibboney.

There were several reasons it did, among them that initial success and a suggestion from an Ohio Historical Society official that the scope of the new organization include not just Grove City but also the four surrounding townships.

Another key factor in the staying power of the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society:

Marilyn Gibboney was a charter member.

Gibboney grew up on her grandmother's farm on Grove City Road, a short distance from where she and her husband of almost 55 years, Max K. Gibboney, now make their home. Only back then it was called Dutch Pike, a corruption of the word "Deutsch," which was derived from all the German immigrants who had settled on farms in the area, among them Marilyn's ancestors.

She started school in the depths of the Depression.

"There was a big fear that the schools were going to close," Marilyn Gibboney recalled.

After graduating from high school, Marilyn Gibboney and some school friends all took jobs in Columbus. Among them was Max Gibboney's sister Virginia. Their family lived on a farm off Stringtown Road that is now the site of the Target store. Virginia eventually paired the two off at a church party.

Marilyn Gibboney's parents had planned all along for their daughter to attend college, and she enrolled at Capital University after working for a year. She majored in history. Among her assignments during the final semester was to write a paper on the history of their hometown. The future Marilyn Gibboney promptly went to the Grove City Library where she found: precious little. Not much at that time existed on paper about a community that dated back to 1852.

The young history major was surprised. After all, relatives on both sides of her family talked about the old days all the time. They were living, breathing pages of the unwritten history of Grove City.

"We just sort of grew up with it," Marilyn Gibboney said.

Flash forward many years, after she was a teacher for a time in Xenia and then a substitute in Columbus after coming back to marry Max, after he's well started on a 40-year career as a construction superintendent, after they've raised their only son Michael, and when a call came in inviting Marilyn to participate in the efforts to save the old Gantz Farmhouse, and she was more than ready.

"I was very much interested," she said. "They had the bulldozer up, ready to knock it down."

The efforts of what became the nucleus of the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society met, eventually, with success.

"The farmhouse was kept and restored by the city," Marilyn Gibboney said.

She went on to serve as vice president of the society from 1988 to 1990, and then as president from 1990 until stepping down in December 2004.

Marilyn Gibboney's long service to that organization and her abiding dedication to the history of her hometown are being honored with her selection as grand marshal for this year's Grove City Community Parade, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 20. This year's theme is "Making History," and organizer Andrew Furr said choosing a grand marshal was easy after he and Grove City Girls' Club officials settled on that choice.

"Typically we like to pick someone who's done a lot for the community that matches that theme," Furr said. "We thought she was an excellent fit for this.

"I find it very admirable that she takes the time to dig into the past and talk to people to get an accurate finding of how this community got started."

Most Southwest Franklin County Historical Society members have long longed for a museum devoted to the subject so dear to their hearts, and Marilyn Gibboney is no exception.

"Oh, yes! Oh, yes!" she said enthusiastically last week. "We're not going to give that up. We still want to have a museum."

Gibboney is hoping that her selection as grand marshal may help spur increased interest among more people in the area in history in general and the society in particular.

"That would be nice," she said.

Anyone interested in registering to be in the Grove City Community Parade may contact Andy Furr by sending an e-mail to gccparade@yahoo.com or by calling him at 875-3096.