By John A. Ballentine
For 2017, the 116th Badge Honorees and the 140th Old Settlers’ Association Celebration, in Toulon, are Willard and Joan Price, of Toulon. Both of the Prices grew up near Toulon and attended Toulon Township High School. Willard graduated from high school in 1947 and Joan Briggs Price graduated in 1950.
As part of our annual commitment, The News interviewed the Badge Honorees to provide a glimpse into what they may speak of during their Old Settlers’ speeches. The Prices will speak separately on Sunday, August 6, at the main stage at approximately 9:30 a.m. It will be located on East Court and Jefferson Streets.
The News: What is your full name?
Willard: “My full name is Willard Quinn Price.”
Joan: “Dora Joan Briggs Price.”
The News: When and where were you born?
Willard: “We were both born in Kewanee at the hospital.”
Joan: “What they used to call the Kewanee Public Hospital.”
Willard: “I was born in January 27, 1929.”
Joan: “July 11, 1932.”
Who are your parents?
Joan: “Fred Briggs and Katherine Briggs.”
Willard: “Fred Price and Lucille Price.”
Do you have brothers and sisters?
Willard: “I have one living brother and one deceased brother. Robert is my younger brother and Wendell is deceased.”
Joan: “There were five of us and there are three left. Malcolm ‘Bud’ has passed away and then there is Joyce, Marvin and me. Our youngest sister, Eve, passed away just last fall.”
Where did you grow up?
Willard: “Boy, that’s a hard question! I would say mostly in the Toulon area.”
Joan: “I was in the Jack Creek area – Elmira, mostly.”
Who are your children?
Joan: “I had one child, Donald Ray Gredell and he passed away on September 3rd, 1977.”
Willard: “There is Frank Price down in Portside, Missouri, Madelyn Green, over in Galva, Carolyn Marcus, down in Florida, Rebecca, is over in Indiana, and Patricia, is up in Wisconsin. They’re pretty well spread out.”
How many grand and great-grandchildren do you have?
Joan: “There are nine grandchildren.”
Willard: “There are 14 great-grandchildren, a set of twins just this summer over in Indiana. That’s about it.”
Where did you go to school? This reporter has seen your high school photos.
Willard: “You probably wouldn’t have recognized me because I think I had hair then and I’m hairless now. I’m hair free. I went to Quinn School, which is now demolished.”
Joan: “I went to Jack Creek grade school and Toulon High School.”
What occupations have you had?
Joan: “I was a bank officer for 30 years in Harrison, Arkansas.”
Willard: “I farmed for roughly 25 years and then co-mingled with that I retired from LTV Steel as a millwright and machinist over in Hennepin.”
When were you two married?
Joan: “We were married May 15th, 2004.”
Where did you meet, although you knew one another from high school?
Joan: “Our high school reunion, in Branson, Missouri, in 2003.”
Which high school class?
Joan: “Mine was 1950.”
Willard: “Mine was 1947, so it was my class’ reunion. This is my 70th reunion this year! I think we could probably have it in a telephone booth! (Laughter). Some of these kids nowadays wouldn’t know what that is.”
Where did you honeymoon?
Willard: “In Davenport.”
Joan: “It was a one night honeymoon because we were in church the next day!”
What was your first car?
Willard: “My first car was a 1950 Plymouth.”
Joan: “The first car I owned of my own was a 1975 Chevrolet.”
Do you remember your first tractor?
Willard: “Oh, yes! It was an Allis-Chalmers WD-45, in 1954.”
What historical event do you remember most?
Joan: “I remember Pearl Harbor, very well and John Kennedy’s assassination.”
Willard: “I would say September 11th, 2001 was pretty memorable and Kennedy’s assassination.”
What invention has had the most impact on your life?
Willard: “I would say battery operated tools.”
Joan: “Well, I remember when we got electricity. It was 1941.”
Are you military veterans?
Willard: “I was at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for two years as a bandsman. I played the trombone in the band in the Army from 1951 to 1953.”
Other than your tractors, do you have hobbies or collections?
Willard: “Oh yeah, I have a toy collection, but they are almost all tractors. Mostly red.”
Joan: “I have books. Now Kindle – I can’t read books anymore, but I have Kindle.”
What advice would you give young people?
Joan: “Stay in school! Go as far as you can and obey your parents!”
Willard: “Learn to write and spell.”
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Willard: “Well, nowadays it would be that I had red hair!”
Joan: “I am very shy! People don’t believe that, but I am very shy.”
Is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t discussed?
Joan: “I am so thankful to be back in Toulon. It’s just great to be here.”
Willard: “It’s nice to be back in your hometown.”
Thank you very much.
Joan and Willard: “Thank you, we appreciate it.”
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