Junior Windle has always had one of the best seats to see the action at the South Vienna Corn Festival – his front porch.
It’s from his home on State Route 54 that the 91-year-old who has been an area resident more than 60 years can see everything going on, waving to old friends and new ones.
For the 40th edition of the festival this weekend, Windle will have a new view – from the lead car of the parade as this year’s grand marshal, beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The festival runs Friday to Sunday.
Windle dismisses the fuss and is humble about the honor.
“I’m thankful they thought of me,” he said. “I’m told I’m the oldest one in South Vienna.”
Born in Scioto County, Windle served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, earning several decorations. Following the war, he found work it in Springfield, living there shortly, but found a better situation just up the road in South Vienna in 1950.
“This little town seemed to be nice, good people around here, no big problems,” he said.
Windle moved to his current home in the town in 1967, not far from his previous one.
Windle retired from Thompson Grinder, also working at Otis Elevator and as head custodian at Northeastern High School for a decade. A three-year stint working in Chicago was his only time away from the area.
Windle and late wife Betty’s five children – Barbara, Brenda, Ronnie, Roger and Rick – are Northeastern graduates. The first three still reside in South Vienna, while Roger lives in Springfield.
Windle and Betty sang gospel music as a favorite pastime, sometimes on local radio station WIZE.
Windle is actually following in his spouse’s footsteps as Corn Festival grand marshal. Betty served in 2002, and his memory is of that day is being terribly hot.
Betty died in 2004 after 58 years together, and Windle said he has nothing but great memories.
He’s unsure what’s kept him going strong so many years.
“I just kept moving, that’s it,” Windle said. “I’d work all day and then work until dark around the house when I got home. I’d still be doing more if I hadn’t had a stroke.”
He believes the Corn Festival is celebrating 40 years because it’s a place to visit and meet other people you may only see once a year and enjoy good food.
Even with his higher profile as grand marshal in 2016, Windle said he plans to go from the parade right back to his favorite spot on the porch, waving and smiling at the visitors.
“I’m almost a permanent fixture here anymore,” he said, laughing.
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