Newton Parks and Recreation honors volunteers during the Annual Senior Citizen’s Dance

Kate Wimberly
Staff Writer

On Thursday evening on February 13th, attendees honored and celebrated the life and dedication of two volunteers that have recently passed—Nancy Killian and Martha Jo Drum. The event also honored Caroll Stiles, a long-time volunteer with the Newton Parks and Recreation Department.

Nancy Killian is most remembered for being great with people. She was the administrative assistant at Public Works for many years. Her story started with simple beginnings, working at her father’s grocery store—Gantt’s Grocery on Caldwell Avenue. Many attendees recounted fond memories of both Nancy’s friendship and visiting her father’s store.

“It was one of those small country stores you would see in the movies. I remember stopping by to pick up a pack of nabs and a Coke. And we would sit on those barrels in front of Gantt’s Grocery talking,” shared Sandra Waters, Director of the Newton Parks and Recreation Department.

Martha Jo Drum ran Midstate Mills and was most remembered for her creativity and drive in her volunteer work. She is responsible for much of Newton’s beautification, started “light up the town,” the Santa House, and the tree lighting that takes place every year at Christmas. She also started the luminaries in the cemeteries throughout Newton.

Carroll Stiles, who passed away in 2016, was celebrated for his birthday this past weekend and his many years volunteering alongside his wife and daughter in the Newton Parks and Recreation Department. Carroll Stiles grew up in Claremont and went on to retire from the Navy. For at least 25 years, he helped run concessions and ballgames through the athletic programs, as well as help with special events.

“We would not have the events or facilities without our dedicated volunteers, and we honor them tonight,” stated Carol Stiles, Assistant Director of the Newton Parks and Recreation Department.

Their individual and collective legacies continue to leave a powerful mark on our community. Attendees made their favorite cookies and cakes in honor of each of their lives and service.

If you were unable to attend this event, or are looking forward to the next opportunity to be a part of this incredible program, the Newton Parks and Recreation Department also hosts a Soldiers’ Reunion and Christmas Dance for individuals and couples ages 55 and over.

For anyone who is interested in attending or volunteering for these events, they may call Carol Stiles at 828-695-4317 for more information.