Community tours new Wheaton Depot Museum during barbecue

Thursday, July 16, 2009
Lombard honored during special ceremony Democrat Photo The Wheaton Historical Society and Wheaton volunteer firefighters held a dedication ceremony in front of the Wheaton Depot Museum on Saturday. During the ceremony, a special stone that has been placed in the Wheaton Depot Memorial Walk was unveiled. The stone honors Wheaton Fire Chief Bob Lombard for his commitment and service to the Wheaton community.

The Wheaton Volunteer Fire Department's 51st annual barbecue offered community members food, fun and an opportunity to tour the recently completed Wheaton Depot Museum.

"We sold out of chicken, but our crowd was down due to the heat and the economy," said Bob Lombard, Wheaton fire chief. "The entertainment was real good though. We had five groups do a fantastic job in the heat, and then we had karaoke until midnight after the duck race. It turned out pretty good to be so hot."

The duck race also attracted fewer Barry Countians this year. Lombard said that the fire department sold 544 ducks, which is around 100 fewer ducks than are traditionally purchased during the barbecue.

Duck race winners were: Linda Moore, first place, $500; Debbie Bailey, second place, $250; Betty Peterson, third place, $125; Mitchell Shockley, fourth place, $75; and Kaye Hughes, fifth place, $50.

Community members toured the recently completed Wheaton Depot Museum throughout the day. Many barbecue attendees were impressed by the extensive collection now on display in the facility.

"We have added items from former Wheaton businesses, school photos, furnishings pertaining to the railroad and a large collection of Wheaton photos," said Betty Lamberson, museum acquisitions.

Leroy and Ann Sligar, formerly of Purdy, attended the grand opening and shared information on a collection of tools and railroad construction and maintenance items that they have loaned to the museum. The Sligars collection also includes dining car items, such as time schedules, signal lanterns and an impulse clock.

On Saturday, the Sligars surprised Lamberson with a large collection of antique keychains. The items were added to a display case in the museum.

During the barbecue, the Wheaton Historical Society held a dedication ceremony to honor volunteers who donated time and money to complete the depot restoration project. The society and volunteer firefighters also unveiled a special stone on the Wheaton Depot Memorial Walk in honor of Lombard.

"A lot of people dedicate a lot of time to the city," said Lombard's son, Lindy. "A lot of the time the work they do goes unseen. Many people have said to me, 'I can't believe the amount of hours your father puts in for the city.' The only thing that ever came close to mother and I was the city."

The special stone features the following inscription: "To honor Bob Lombard. Thanks for the many years of selfless dedication and service to the City of Wheaton. Thank you from the Wheaton community."

According to the stone, Lombard served as chief of the Wheaton Fire Department from 1967 to 1969 and from 1974 to present. He also served as mayor from 1969 to 1974.

"This was so unbelievable," Lombard said about the dedication ceremony. "I sure didn't expect it. I don't know how they did it without me finding out. A lot of people knew, but I sure didn't."

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