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The fellowship hall at Temple Baptist Church was crowded on Tuesday, Feb. 23 as Scoutmaster Steve Hale signed off after 30 years of scouting.
In his final official act as scoutmaster, Hale presented Springfield with four new Eagle Scouts. Philip Wesley Campbell, Bob Grider, Will Hale and Jordan Simpson were honored at the Eagle Scout ceremony, followed by a banquet for scouts, their families, and special guests.
The Honorable Dan Kelly, 11th Circuit court judge and an Eagle Scout himself, acted as master of ceremonies. The boys’ speeches reflected the fun they’ve enjoyed in Boy Scouting and the deep appreciation and respect they feel about all the adults who made their scouting experience possible.
The boys reminisced about snakes, camping, go-carts, Pinewood Derby cars, mud and other adventures in scouting.
Many local dignitaries were present at the banquet. Frank Potter represented the Knights of Columbus, the generous chartering organization of BSA Troop 429. Taylor and June Spaulding represented the Spaulding-Kelly Group Home, which was the recipient of Wesley Campbell’s picnic table project. Sr. Elaine Derossiers attended the banquet as Will Hale’s special guest, representing Habitat for Humanity. Will Hale landscaped Kathy Edelen’s new Habitat for Humanity home. Mayor and Mrs. John Cecconi represented the city of Springfield for Bob Grider’s Eagle project, which made recycling bins available at public buildings and Idle Hour Park. Jordan Simpson’s project was landscaping a home for the Fuller Center for Housing.
Jill Settles read a proclamation on behalf of her husband, Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles, naming Wednesday, March 24 as Eagle Scout Day in Washington County.
Scoutmaster Steve Hale presented certificates of appreciation to assistant scout masters John Simpson and Philip Campbell Sr., and to committee chairman Jerry Grider for their dedication and service to Troop 429.
The evening concluded with Steve and Mary Ann Hale retiring after 30 years as Scout Master and his assistant. Steve took over Troop 429 in 1980, when Darnell Waters, with the local Rotary club, thought it would be a great idea for Steve, whose children were all babies at the time, to have a Boy Scout troop. Two of the Scouts from the 1980 troop, Fr. Mark Hamilton and Joe Isaacs, were in attendance at the banquet.
Even though he was in the midst of starting a new business, minister of music and minister of youth at Springfield Baptist Church, Shelter Insurance agent, swim team coach and numerous other responsibilities, Hale took on the challenge and changed the lives of many local young men. John Parker Wharton and Murray Walker headed up a local Boy Scout explorer troop when Hale was a teenager, and he thanked them for planting the seeds that led to Troop 429’s growth.
At the end of his career in Boy Scouts, Steve Hale can boast that all four of his sons are Eagle Scouts, and that seven other boys became Eagles under his tutelage. Hale’s list of Eagles includes his sons Stephen, Matthew, Michael and William Hale, John Mackin, Ashley Burns, Patrick Haydon, Matthew Smith, Jordan Simpson, Wesley Campbell and Bob Grider.