Theron Hastings, who served our nation as a soldier in World War II, was selected to lead the Veteran's Day Parade in Henry County, Tennessee, which he has called home his entire life. Theron, who is ninety-six, entered military service in 1942 after it became apparent that the war against Germany and Japan would not be over quickly. He served honorably in battles against German forces in multiple battles and received several medals for bravery although he downplays his role in the fighting. After the allies' victory in Europe, like many others, Theron anticipated having to fight again in Japan, but the nuclear bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to the Japanese surrender without an invasion of the their home islands. After his discharge early in 1946, Theron was able to return home to Henry County to settle down peacefully and begin farming once more.
Theron, known as T to his close friends, and his wife Joyce have engaged in farming for many years and, even today, you may see him in the field on a tractor or see both planting, tilling, and harvesting vegetable crops to share with their neighbors. They have mentored younger people and helped them learn about farming and becoming better farmers through such activities as the Farm Bureau and the Young Farmers and Ranchers organizations.
The Studebaker carrying the parade grand marshall was driven by Grant Norwood, a young protegee of Theron. Grant is a successful farmer in his own right, having been selected as Tennessee Farmer of the Year, the youngest ever, and as the outstanding conservationist in the southeast. Grant and his wife Crystal are carrying on the tradition of Theron and Joyce by helping teach young people in schools about farming and the link between farms where the food is grown and the stores where their parents buy that food. For those young people who wish to become farmers, both Grant and Crystal work with them through Young Farmers and Ranchers.
The 1961 Hawk belongs to John and Val Alexander, and John was its sole owner from the time it came off the showroom floor up until he gave half ownership to Val when it was restored in 2007. The appearance of the automobile is better than the original since the perfectionist who worked on the body insisted on removing every imperfection, although there are now a few rock chips since it is driven to shows instead of being hauled. For their safety while driving the Hawk to shows, John and Val had shoulder-harness seatbelts installed, and the original AM radio has been replaced by an AM-FM model designed specifically for Studebakers and bearing the Studebaker name.