Norwich Township Trustee Chuck Buck, the grand marshal of this year's Hilliard Fourth of July parade, said he would not have achieved success as a business owner and public servant without those who have surrounded him.
"I've been fortunate to have worked with some wonderful people," said Buck, 62, a 1970 graduate of Hilliard High School.
In many past parades, Buck and his fellow trustees literally were at the end of the parade, each riding a golf cart and keeping company with the firefighters in the last vehicle.
This Friday, July 4, Buck will lead the parade when it steps off at 10 a.m. from the Franklin County Fairgrounds and when it ends in the parking lots of the school buildings east of Leppert Road.
"I'm honored and surprised," Buck said of his status as grand marshal.
Buck has been part of the community for most of his life. After graduating from Hilliard High School, Buck attended Columbus Technical Institute, the predecessor of Columbus State Community College.
One year later, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was near the end of his two-year commitment when his father, Charles, called him at his base in Texas to gauge his interest in founding a business.
"I was getting out of the Air Force in a few months and getting married. ... I thought it would be a good idea to have a job," Buck said.
He joined his parents, Charles and Marianna, and his younger brother, Steve, in establishing Buck & Sons Landscape Service in 1972.
"We started in my parents' garage on Cosgray Road with one (self-propelled) lawn mower and another push mower, and a one-ton truck," Buck said.
Today, Buck & Sons employs about 45 people, including one of Buck's two daughters, and has annual sales of about $2.75 million.
While starting up the family business, Buck married his wife, Mary, also a 1970 graduate of Hilliard High School.
She was an elementary school teacher in Hilliard schools for 30 years.
"Our family lived next door to her family," Buck said. "Her brother kept telling me to take her on a date."
He sought to make an impression, taking his future wife to the Sirloin, a former Hilliard landmark which now is a Mexican restaurant in the strip center on Main Street just north of Heritage Club Drive.
The Bucks celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary June 30.
As the landscaping business continued to expand and eventually relocate to its current site on Hayden Run Road, Buck also began a career in public service.
He was elected to the Hilliard school board in 1985 and served two terms to the end of 1993.
"It was very intense and very rewarding," Buck said.
In those eight years, enrollment more than doubled from about 4,200 to 9,000 students.
"It was an extraordinarily busy and active time," Buck said.
He estimated the district carried out about $65 million in new construction, including additions to nearly every elementary school building and the construction of Norwich Elementary School, Station Sixth Grade School and Davidson High School.
"I had the chance to work with a lot of great people," Buck said.
After he left the school board in 1993, Buck returned his attention full-time to the family business but was encouraged to resume the role of public servant seven years later.
In 2000, Norwich Township Trustee Web Junk died.
Buck was appointed to the trustee board and then elected in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013.
During his service as a trustee, Norwich Township built Station 83 at Davidson Road and Trueman Boulevard and the Norwich Township Joint Safety Services Building on Northwest Parkway.
"I've been blessed to work with great people at the township, too," Buck said.
Buck and his wife have two daughters, Mandy and Emily.
Mandy works in the human-resources department of Buck & Sons and Emily is a veterinarian who owns her own clinic, Buck Gardens Animal Hospital.
The Bucks also welcomed their first grandchild in May.
Hilliard's Independence Day celebration begins with amusement rides and carnival games at 5 p.m. today, July 3, at Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park, 3800 Veterans Memorial Drive.
The midway will reopen at noon Friday, July 4, after the parade is concluded.
McGuffey Lane will perform in concert at 6:30 p.m. at the amphitheater at Municipal Park and will continue until the start of the fireworks display.
Fireworks are scheduled to launch at 9:45 p.m.