Nappanee - Retirement isn’t in Dean & Sally Guard’s vocabulary even though Dean has put in 58 years of retail sales in the same block of South Main Street, Nappanee. He is currently in his 21st year as owner/operator of Antiques on the Square. Up until Sally retired from DePuy (Warsaw, IN) in 2000 she worked weekends at the store; since then they have been steady partners with an ongoing commitment and dedication to a city they say “has been so good to them”.
The Nappanee Apple Festival is honored to have the Guards as Grand Marshals of the 2013 Festival.
Sally (Stutzman) is a “home grown girl” and Dean moved to town from Bremen when he was a freshman in High School; he was being “scouted” to play basketball for Nappanee High School! The move proved a good one.
His retail career began by way of a 37 year tenure with G&N Grocery. During that time period “people were so supportive that I just wanted to give back”, said Dean. And that he did by serving two terms on the city council in the 70’s and 80’s. He also served under the mayoral terms of Jim Newcomer, Jim Mellinger and Bob Callander, as a member of the Economic Development Commission when bonds were approved for Amish Acres, L. J. Wagner and Family Fare (now Martin’s).
During his council years “I never accepted a penny,” said Dean. “I gave it all back to the city departments. He bought the first bullet proof vest for the Nappanee Police Department and outfitted the 21 member fire department. Upon attending a funeral for one of the firemen he decided he didn’t like seeing the department wear red jumpsuits for such events. So he approached Bob Coppes, Coppes Men’s Wear, and “cut a deal” on navy blazers, gray slacks, shirts and ties. Dean went on to serve as a toastmaster for many years for the firemen’s Christmas parties, awards banquets, etc. It was a mutual admiration.
Squeezed into the past 58 years he has also sold real estate and worked for Hahn Auctions.
“He loves Nappanee,” said Sally. “When someone wants to know something about its history, they come to Dean. He has so much knowledge about the town.”
When most people in their “golden years” are taking retirement, Sally and Dean find the antique store, a “personalized” downtown Nappanee, and the Chamber of Commerce, that they have been in “forever”, a perfect fit. Add to that their antique dealer extended family. “We have become so close that we laugh, cry and pray together and enjoy Christmas parties and summer picnics,” said Sally.
Do they even vacation? Yes, a day or two here and there and they do close the store in January and February for a sabbatical. Then time is spent visiting two daughters in Atlanta, GA. The Guards have been married 23 years (of which Dean describes the time as being the most blessed man in the area); their blended family includes six children, 12 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren. Out of the 12 “grands and greats”, nine are actively teaching school!
While describing the city Dean remarked “it’s just like what was written a few years ago about being one of the top 100 places to see in your lifetime. We are so blessed with the townspeople. Look at the help during the tornado a few years ago. Tourists comment that our people smile, talk, and take time for each other. We have so many repeat customers coming from a great distance 2-3 times a year. They like our town.”
“It’s a quaint city”, added Sally. “It has been so good to us,” noted Dean.
The Guard’s are members of the Methodist Church where both have served as trustees; Dean was head of finance, and Sally currently as Secretary of the Thrift Shop.For a complete schedule of events visit www.nappaneeapplefestival.org to view the 2013 brochure or visit Nappanee Apple Festival on Facebook.