Don Walton isn’t a hard man to find in the Summer.
Actually, just about anytime the weather permits, he can be found in the same place. He may be riding a lawnmower, or perhaps walking along carrying a shovel. Regardless of what it is he’s doing, Walton is most certainly doing it at Walz Park.
For thirty years, Walton has served as the Park’s Coordinator, ensuring that the public treasure remains in peak condition for all to enjoy. Oftentimes, such a humble endeavor goes unnoticed among the people being served, with many believing their parks simply maintain their beauty and majesty naturally.
That’s not the case in Edon, however.
Over the years, a multitude of people have expressed their appreciation for the work the retired teacher has done with both the park and their kids. All of that was culminated on February 27 in what may well be the ultimate display of gratitude an Edon resident can receive; The Jerry Luce Award.
The award’s namesake having died in a car accident in 1993, the family sought out a way to honor the Luce patriarch. Looking to then school superintendent Kent Adams for advice, they decided to create an award dedicated honoring an adult who displays great service and volunteerism for the Edon community.
“We look for somebody who is dedicated to the community.” Jo Ann Luce, wife to the late Jerry, clarified during the presentation ceremony at halftime of the Edon boys basketball game against Fayette.
The entirety of those in attendance, students included, fell to silence as Luce spoke, her children Allen Luce and Jennifer Maier (Luce) flanking her. She went on to explain that, this year, the distinction was treated as a lifetime achievement award.
Minutes later, Walton was named the twenty-second winner of the prestigious award.
“I feel very privileged.” Was Walton’s initial response to winning the award. “I’ve known Jerry and Jo Ann (Luce) since I first came here.”
As hard as it may be for most Edon residents to imagine, there was a time when Walton was not roaming the school’s halls or minding Walz Park. And yes, it was at some point AFTER the last ice age that he entered into village lore.
The year was 1977, to be exact. Walton had just finished his fourth year of teaching in Liberty, Indiana. The shop teacher took an opening at Edon, and spent the next thirty-seven years there. During his lengthy tenure, he went on to become the school’s Athletic Director (A.D.), coaching volleyball and baseball as well.
Coaching is something in which Walton takes a great deal of pride. When prompted, he won’t hesitate to tell one the highlight of his time at Edon.
“The year we went to State in baseball.” Recalled Walton fondly.
He also cited advancing to Regionals in volleyball as a landmark achievement in his career.
Of course, a major component of coaching is working with kids, an art Walton had mastered in his multiple decades of experience. Many student athletes have developed under his tutelage, including Jennifer and Allen Luce, both of whom stood with their mother Jo Ann as they presented their former coach their father’s award.
Walking away from such a rewarding profession can be difficult. It took Walton five years to do so, in fact. He stopped teaching in 2009, yet held on to his role as A.D. until just last year, when he turned the reigns over to Scott Staten.
“I’m completely retired now.” Walton stated.
Well, maybe not completely. If anyone needs him, they’ll still know where to find him.
T.J. Hug can be reached at