The Sumpter Township Country Fest Parade starts at noon on Saturday, May 26, and Don and Val Swinson are will be riding in the parade as this year’s Honored Citizens.
They have been married 57 years and have resided at their Harris Road residence for 49 years.
Don graduated in 1959 from Farwell Area High School in Farwell, MI and, shortly thereafter, moved to Ypsilanti after landing a job at the Willow Run General Motors plant. Val also graduated from Farwell Area High School as valedictorian in 1960. They married on August 20, 1960.
After moving to Sumpter Township in 1969, they continued to establish their family foundation. The couple has 5 children, 7 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren with another one expected soon.
Don worked for General Motors for 33 years, starting out on the assembly line and working up to a skilled trades position. He also served as a Boy Scout leader for 10 years. He retired at the age of 53 after which he still continued to work full-time for Spring Arbor Distributors and later on at Ace Hardware. In April 1995, he established Papa’s Fix-It serving the Sumpter community as the “go to guy” for small engine repair.
Val maintained the household while raising their children. She played an active role volunteering at St. Anthony’s school and church for 20+ years. She was always the Mom you saw on lunch duty. She also organized funeral luncheons, ran the kitchen on bingo nights, taught Sunday school, did countless events at the Strawberry Festival, and served as a Eucharist Minister for a number of years.
Together, the couple traveled to Honduras as missionaries in 2004 and, most recently, to Israel in October 2017 where they visited many historical sites including the Holy Land.
They continue to be very active within the church at River of Life in Belleville where Don serves as Head Usher. In their spare time, they enjoy growing a garden, canning, and making honey.
They will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary in August of this year.
Grand Marshal Joe and Fay Nasser
The Joe and Fay Nasser family is this year’s Grand Marshal of the Sumpter Fest Parade.
Many years ago Sumpter was an active thriving community. On the corner of Sumpter and Willis roads there was Welt’s Grocery and Gas, Joe Sietz’s General Store & Gas, Henry Sietz’s Hardware Store, Sobecki’s Willis Bar, Bowling Alley and Gas Station (where Sumpter Market now stands) Januszyk’s Roller Rink, Ceasar’s Restaurant and even a shoe store among others. Most of these are gone.
In 2011, Joe Nasser purchased the southwest corner of Sumpter and Willis roads and built the Sumpter Market with a deli, pharmacy, and gas station. Providing a gas station and country market with a wide variety of items to offer has been a welcome addition to the community.