(Posted Aug. 21, 2019)
The West Jefferson Community Association named West Jefferson resident Dave Harper as grand marshal of this year’s Ox Roast parade. The annual festival takes place Aug. 31-Sept. 2. The parade steps off at noon on Aug. 31. For a full schedule of events, go to West Jefferson Ox Roast schedule.
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Early on in life, Dave Harper spent seven years as a police officer for the city of Hilliard. He loved the work but decided it wasn’t what he was meant to do.
“I didn’t think catching people was what I was supposed to do. I wanted to be preventing things and helping people,” he said.
This realization informed his subsequent career choices and became the foundation for his community service.
After leaving the Hilliard Police Department as a sergeant in 1970, Harper went to work as manager of the credit card fraud department at Ohio National Bank. He remained with the institution for 38 years, through several mergers and acquisitions, always with a focus on prevention. He retired in 2008 as senior vice president and corporate director of security, overseeing operations in 14 states for National City Bank.
At the same time he shifted careers, he also ran for and won a seat on Hilliard city council, which he held for two years. He then took a leave of absence from the bank to serve as the city’s safety director full-time for one year. He returned to the bank, but continued as safety director part-time for another six years.
Harper and his wife, Liz, moved to West Jefferson in 1979. His ties to the community are long as his mother graduated from West Jefferson High School in 1940. With help, Harper found his calling when it came to serving his new community.
He tells the story of how West Jefferson resident Jack Pfeil came to him and told him he needed to get involved with the school board. It was the last day to file petitions to run in the 1986 election.
“He put me in his car, and we went door to door for signatures,” Harper said.
Harper won the election and has since served on the school board for a total of 20 years. In that time, he has held the positions of board president and vice president. He also is a decades-long fixture in the West Jefferson Athletic Boosters, for which he served as president and treasurer for many years.
Harper and his wife, Liz, have four children–Dave, Ed, Joy and Susan–nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They often can be seen at West Jefferson schools selling t-shirts, flags and raffle tickets or working the concession stands.
Over the years, Harper has received many awards for his work and service, including recognition from the Ohio School Boards Association for outstanding community service. He was installed in West Jefferson Local Schools’ Athletic Hall of Fame and named Booster of the Year and Fan of the Year.
Harper was named Franklin County Police Officer of the Year and installed in the American Police Hall of Fame. He has been recognized by Public Eyes, the FBI, Hilliard American Legion and Crime Stoppers. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office honored him for his contributions to the Highway Serial Shooter investigation in 2004; Harper helped to coordinate an appreciation dinner for all of the personnel who worked on the investigation and their families.
With his selection as grand marshal of the 2019 West Jefferson Ox Roast parade, Harper’s list of accolades grows another entry longer.
About the honor, Harper said, “I never look at myself as one to be recognized. I’ve always looked at myself as a servant, not only to the community but to God.”
In announcing Harper’s selection as grand marshal, Jeff Pfeil, president of the West Jefferson Community Association, said, “Dave, we thank you and your family for all you have done for West Jefferson.”