Scouts honor: Troop 71 recognized

Messenger photos by Rick Palsgrove
Boy Scouts from Troop 71 light candles as part of the opening ceremonies honoring the troop’s 80th anniversary.
Gene Wilson (left) is congratulated by Boy Scout Troop 71 Scoutmaster Pete Gerardi for his more than six decades of service to the Scout troop.

Boy Scouts from Troop 71, both current members and gray haired past Scouts, gathered at Asbury United Methodist Church on Nov. 2 to honor the troop’s 80th birthday and to recognize one of their own for years of service.

Boy Scout Troop 71 was formed with 16 members in 1929 in Groveport and was sponsored by a group of private citizens until 1939. Then, in 1940 the Groveport Lions Club became the sponsor.

According to Troop 71 Scoutmaster Peter Gerardi, the troop has produced 80 Eagle Scouts throughout its history. He said some of the Eagle Scout projects that have helped the community include such things as painting school libraries, erecting fences on playgrounds, repairing doors and playground equipment at the schools, holding blood drives, putting up bleachers at Madison Christian School, aiding the clean up and restoration of Ohio and Erie Canal Lock 22, and much more.

Gerardi said Troop 71 plays a vital role in area parades, Memorial Day ceremonies,  flag retirement ceremonies, clean ups, and collecting food for the food pantry. In addition to all of this, the Scouts also participate in traditional Scouting activities like hiking and camping.

Groveport Mayor Lance Westcamp presented the troop with a proclamation honoring it for its years of service as well as honoring former Scoutmaster Gene Wilson, 90, who has served Troop 71 for more than six decades.

Gerardi said that, under Wilson’s guidance, 47 young men became Eagle Scouts and more than 2,000 merit badges were earned by Scouts. He added that, over the years, Wilson has hiked more than 500 miles, camped out more than 500 times, and canoed more than 200 miles with Scouts.

Several former Scouts, spoke with emotion and sang Wilson’s praises, as well as Scouting in general, for helping them reach achievements in their adult years.
Gerardi said Wilson is the type of man people should, and do, look to as a role model.

Added Warren Motts of Motts Military Museum, "Gene Wilson is an awesome man. He’s had a profound, positive impact on a lot of young kids."

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