Worthington News

Hart is first to twice lead parade as grand marshal

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Joe Hart will lead the Worthington Memorial Day parade -- again.

Hart is such a tireless supporter of veterans that the Leasure-Blackston American Legion Post 239, which organizes the parade, decided to ask him to be the only repeat grand marshal in the 93-year history of the parade.

Hart, who rode at the head of the parade sometime in the 1980s, said he is pleased to be able to do it a second time.

"I think it's a high honor," he said. "It's not for me; it's for all the veterans who have served over the years."

Hart served in the U.S. Marines from 1959 until 1965. He was stationed in the South Pacific, the Phillipines, Laos and in other distant lands. Some from his unit were called to Vietnam, but Hart wasn't.

"It was peacetime, but we were on call," he said. "They could have sent us anywhere at any time."

Hart was born in Concord, N.H., and went to the University of Nebraska on a football scholarship.

After the Marines, he went to Creighton University, where he received his MBA.

He spent 17 years working for Sperry Univac until a 1977 car accident landed him in the hospital for four-and-a-half months. When he was released, he had no job.

He then went into real estate, selling new homes for Bob Webb Builders, and in 1980 obtained his real estate license.

Hart has been a well-known real estate agent in Worthington since then.

He became even more well-known in Worthington when he served on the Worthington Board of Education from 1983 until 1991, which were years of growth and some turmoil in the district.

His main contribution to the community has been his volunteerism on the behalf of veterans.

Besides being an active member of the local American Legion for 35 years, Hart has served in the Marine Corps League for 25 years and was a founder of the Mid-Ohio Marine Foundation in 2005.

Since 2006, the organization has placed crosses for every fallen Ohioan killed in the line of duty at the Ohio Fallen Veterans Memorial in Sunbury. Thus far, 165 marble markers have been placed.

Hart also serves on the Employer Support of Guard and Reserves, which mediates cases between employers and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

For the past 12 years, he has organized Patriots Day. Because of Hart's efforts, every Sept. 11 since 2001, a moving remembrance has been brought to the Worthington Village Green.

He said he wants to make sure that what occurred on 9/11 is not forgotten and that the first responders and the military men and women who fought for our country receive the honor and respect they deserve.

Unlike his first ride down High Street as grand marshal, Hart will not be accompanied this time by his wife, Judy. She lives in an assisted-care center, and is not well enough to take part in the parade this year.

The Harts raised three boys in Worthington. All graduated from Worthington High School.

Mike is a retired Navy commander who lives in Florida. Sean is a dentist in Lafayette, Ind.

Bob, who lives in Powell, will bring his three children to ride in the parade with his father, who is looking forward to connecting with old friends along the way.

"I'm just going to represent all those men and women who have served," Hart said.

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