Homespun Patriotism

Patriotism swells in the hearts of Clare and Glenn Waibel, but it’s not a patriotism born of mere sentimentality. It’s a belief, a conviction that motivates them to share their principles with others. They do so with great enthusiasm, attention to detail, and hospitality. They enjoy celebrating, and the celebrations mark milestones in their lives and also in the country they love.

For the past 30 years, they’ve celebrated July 4th in style and in the company of others. The nuances have multiplied through the years, and so has the company. The inaugural celebration was a small party and included a short walk around the driveway of their home with their first grandchild, Lindsay Waibel. Their good friend, Leo Brand, shared his collection of flags from his overseas time with Caterpillar. Leo and his wife, Dorothy, were there for the first celebration and the grand finale and many, many in betweens.

Each year the July 4th observance grew and included a picnic with guests bringing their favorite dishes to share, skits complete with costumes, patriotic songs, a parade winding through the neighborhood streets, festive red, white, and blue decorations, and of course, the many flags of all sizes. The parade, in recent years assisted by the Bartonville Police Department to assure the 100 plus marchers’ safety, concluded with people gathered around the flagpole to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Games, more trips to the sweets and beverage tables, and folks enjoying that great feeling of pride in their country and the pleasure of each other’s company continued throughout the afternoon.

This year the celebration included another component – Glenn’s 80th birthday in September. While he’s very young at heart and active, the couple decided it would be the grand finale for the July 4th celebration. So dessert included birthday cake and congratulatory wishes.

Hospitality reigns supreme at the Waibels. The park like setting for their home on Mohn Way, surrounded by the Bartonville area, is lovingly maintained and Clare and Glenn are generous with their resources. The house was built in 1930 by Clare’s uncle, her father’s brother, who was a cabinetmaker in his native Germany. Clare lived in that house with her parents and two older sisters. When she and Glenn married in May of 1976, they moved into the house where her dad was still living. Her mother died in 1969. “This is the house my immigrant father built during the depression,” she says proudly.

She credits her dad, Fred Johnigk, with instilling the spirit of patriotism and gratitude. “Pop wanted to celebrate. The flags had to go up. It was such a big holiday,” she remembers about July 4th. “My father was so proud to be an American.”

It’s that pride and spirit that influence the many, many hours they spend doing extensive gardening and landscaping. Their attention to the area on Smithville Road, across from their home, has merited public acknowledgement and expressions of gratitude. They also volunteer their time helping with floral and seasonal decorations for the interior of their church, St. Anthony in Bartonville. Glenn can often be seen mowing and trimming on even the most humid of days with temperatures soaring. He takes great pleasure in his beautification efforts, although he’s more a person of projects than words.

Clare was an art and English teacher and a graphic artist at International Paper Company, and Glenn retired from Caterpillar. Retirement for the couple didn’t necessarily mean added leisure, but rather a change of venue for their time and talents. With two sons and two daughters, six grandchildren, and two great grandchildren, they are quick to point out their families’ involvement and help with the July 4th celebrations.

Clare has maintained scrapbooks marking family celebrations and even local and world news events for over 30 years, including some albums she has from her youth. There are countless treasures in those books that detail the lives and interests of two generous, hard-working people and their families. Among their vast collection of photographs is a picture of her Dad and Glenn looking up at one of the many flags that have flown in the Johnigk/Waibel yard. It’s the pride and satisfaction in their eyes that reflect what Clare and Glenn have worked so diligently and enthusiastically to share with others.

“That spirit always remains with us,” says Clare. And it’s that spirit that marks the lives of these two people in their celebrations and interactions with others.

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