Gillespie is Grand Marshal
By Cheryl Parker

The Grand Marshal of the 2019 Farmers Day Parade is retiring social studies teacher, Jim Gillespie. Gillespie has taught in the Jesup community since 1985 and has enjoyed teaching many second-generation students.

Gillespie was raised in the Cresco area by industrious parents with eighth grade educations. His father was a trucker from West Virginia. While traveling through northern Iowa, he had a break down and took work at the shop to pay for repairs. This is where he met Jim’s mother.

When one looks at Gillespie’s caring personality, love of volunteerism, and compassion for others, it is easy to see his mother’s influence. At the care center where his mother worked, there was a couple who had a son that needed help planting trees. She immediately volunteered her 7th grade son, Jim, to help with the labor for this large tree-planting project in northern Iowa. (He says he probably would rather have been playing ball.) He did not realize at the time that this tree planter with big ideas would be the future Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the World Food Prize, Norman Borlaug.

His first teaching job was at Jesup Community School, where Superintendent Leland Jesse hired him to teach 5/8 time and included insurance. The next year, he was able to teach 7/8 time. During these years, he supplemented his income by substitute teaching at Don Bosco. The following year when staff had to be reduced due to budget cuts, he was picked up full-time by Don Bosco. His duties there included teaching, coaching girls’ basketball, and serving as the Freshman/Sophomore Dean of Discipline.

During those early years finances were tight, and he remembers the kindness of others, in particular his fellow teachers, in inviting him for meals or extending other kinds of support. The next year, Jesse called him back and he has been teaching and coaching at Jesup High School ever since.

Read the rest of this story in the June 12 issue of the Citizen Herald!
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