Hathaways' place in community: Just grand

Doug Boock
Mary and Jack Hathaway stand outside their Hathaway’s True Value store Monday afternoon. The longtime Galva couple will be grand marshals of the Freedom Fest parade on Saturday.

Galva’s been in existence for 155 years. The Hathaway family’s been here 153 of them.

They’re as Galva as Galva gets.

It’s fitting, then, that Jack and Mary Hathaway, Galva business owners nearly 40 years, are this year’s grand marshals of the July 4 parade, held noon Saturday. It’s an honor they appreciate.

“I think it’s wonderful. I cried when they told me,’” Mary Hathaway said Monday. “I couldn’t believe they thought that much of us. I’m so thrilled, so appreciative.”

Jack laughed.

“I think they couldn’t find anybody else,” he quipped.

A few minutes later, though, he expressed appreciation also.

“It’s a nice honor,” he said. “Things like that are meaningful, but they’re not something I’m looking for or asking for or wanting. I’m not one of those people who needs all the accolades.”

The Hathaways have been in business since 1970, when they bought a hardware business from Glenn Swank. Jack had spent his high school years working with P.R. Dean in his plumbing business, then spent his early adult years working with his father, the late Howard Hathaway, in plumbing and heating.

“In other words, I really grew up in the plumbing and heating business,” Jack said.

Hathaway’s True Value and Hathaway’s Gift Barn have been staples of the Galva downtown for many years. In fact, they’ve drawn customers from far and wide.

“We’ve always been a service-oriented business and have always tried to be as helpful as we can,” said Mary, who oversees the famous collection of items sold at the gift barn, which was opened in 1977. “I’ve tried to bring in things that you don’t normally find in small towns and try to be a destination store. We’ve got to be a destination store.

“We try to cover so many facets,” she added. “People come in from outside the area and are just amazed at what we’ve got and what we stock and they can’t believe a store in a small community can have this.”

“We want to help people,” Jack said. “We want to be friendly and we want to be part of the community. That’s what it’s all about.”

The Hathaways have put in long hours over many years in building their business. Except for a period a few years ago when Jack had some health issues, they’ve burnt the midnight oil many times. It’s resulted in a business that been vital to the health of the downtown, drawing customers who also stop at other stores while here.

Jack is a 1951 graduate of Galva High School. Mary is a 1954 GHS graduate, having moved into town from German’s Corners north of Galva for her eighth grade year of school. During that time, they’ve not only entrenched themselves in the city and its progress, but have developed a natural love for it and its people.

“I just think it’s an up-and-coming small town. We have wonderful people here,” Mary said. “It’s a great place to call home.

“Sometimes people think there’s more out there (elsewhere),” she added. “But you know . . . Is there?”