The Grand Marshal will travel in the Perkins County Fair parade on Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. The parade route will be along Central Avenue, beginning at the park on the north edge of Grant and traveling south to 1st Street, then west toward the fairgrounds.
By Jan Rahn
Toby Hansen said when he got the call that he’d been selected to lead this year’s Perkins County Fair Parade, he thought it was a joke!
The Grant resident said, “I just couldn’t believe it. I’m amazed and flattered. It’s an honor.”
Toby and his wife of 68 years, Clem, will be at the head of Saturday’s parade down Central Avenue, leading the floats exhibiting the theme of “Heroes and Legends.”
Toby has established his own legacy in this county, “helping whenever and wherever he can,” according to the nomination letter received by the Perkins County Chamber of Commerce who selected this year’s honoree.
He is known for his generosity which has included delivering Meals on Wheels, driving people to distant doctor’s appointments, leading and participating in the Cowboy Capitol Chorus, involvement in the American Legion, the Perkins County Senior Center, and as a member of the Grant United Methodist Church.
Toby’s community service has included serving as Grant Assistant Fire Chief, a city councilman, Sunday School teacher, other church-related activities, as well as singing and acting in groups.
“His involvement in music has brightened many stages and events,” said the nomination letter.
Toby was born in Wymore and attended school in Lincoln. Upon graduating, he played the French horn as a member of the Burlington Band, a group that marched and played in cities across the country. He worked for the Lamont Telephone Company in Lincoln repairing telephone switchboards.
In 1943 while the U.S. was involved in WW II, Toby joined the Navy and was stationed at Puget Sound for basic training, then sent to San Francisco and later to Chicago to teach sonar and math, among other subjects.
Upon being honorably discharged, he returned to Lincoln and was hired by what is now Great Plains Communications.
He worked for two years before being transferred to Grant in 1951 as district manager for Central Nebraska Telephone Company, a position he held for 19 years before being transferred to Blair.
During Toby’s early years in Perkins County, he installed a switchboard in Venango and helped set up and maintain rural farmer-owned telephone lines, recalling wonderful meals served by farm wives he worked for. He also remembers going home with fresh cream or eggs.
Toby’s job also included traveling to seven other towns in the district to install telephone equipment in keeping up with the new technology of the time.
Upon retiring, he and Clem moved to Grant to be near their daughter Judy and family.
Toby’s love for barbershop music has taken him to national conventions and much participation in area groups.
“Toby exemplifies the spirit that has brought this county to be known for its friendliness and work ethic,” said the letter.
Come enjoy the parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 27 as it travels from the park to the Perkins County Fairgrounds. Toby will be awarded a plaque in commemoration of his honor.