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Gary Wetherill recognized for his "long term commitments" to the Bluffton community

Pictured L-R) Greg Ring, Mary Ann Ring, Gary Wetherill, Lois Wetherill, Andy Wetherill.

Bluffton Lions celebrate their 2023 Citizen of the Year

By Paula Pyzik Scott

Has it been 20, 30, 40 or more years since you went to high school? Do you remember performing or watching your classmates perform in the school musical? And do you remember who directed the production?

While 2023 Bluffton Lions Citizen of the Year Gary Wetherill has worn many hats in his lifetime, Greg Ring’s memories of Wetherill directing the musical Annie Get Your Gun at Columbus Grove High School in 1975 were part of what motivated him to nominate Wetherill for the award.

At the April 11 Citizen of the Year banquet, Ring described the variety of interests that have fueled Wetherill’s exceptional level of public service. Where did the student actors shop for their cowboy costumes? At the Et Cetera Thrift Shop, where Wetherill has volunteered for the past 47 years, providing expertise in identifying and pricing antiques, as well as serving on the board of directors.

Wetherill has also done volunteer work with school age children through Bluffton Boy Scout Troop 256, where he was a volunteer and Assistant Scoutmaster for more than 30 years, He has mentored many Eagle Scout projects and taught scouts and the community about Native American history and culture.

Since 2001, Wetherill has been an active member of the Swiss Community Historical Society. He has served as board president during the current capital campaign, which is turning a Swiss Settlement barn into a Heritage Center. At the Schumacher Homestead Wetherill puts his hand to countless tasks, including tending fires, coordinating livestock displays, decorating the farmhouse for Christmas and serving as a tour guide.

A member of First Mennonite Church since 1974, Wetherill has served on the church council and other committees and commissions. And, yes, Wetherill is retired from a day job of community service at the Putnam County Board of Developmental Disabilities, where he worked for 34 years.

Ring commented that “Bluffton has so many outstanding people that just quietly give their skills, their time and their passions to assist in so many different ways. And Gary Wetherill, he is that type of person.” Gary’s wife Lois told Ring that the three words that sum up her husband’s life are “Long term commitments.” Ring added that Lois and Gary are a real team and have done much of their volunteer work together.

When Wetherill stepped up to the podium in front of the 50-some dinner guests, he explained why he has filled so many volunteer roles: “Because I was having a good time. If it’s not fun you don’t do any of it.” He thanked the Lions Club for the honor and quipped that “perhaps they had lowered their standards this year.”

Lion Don Hostetler presented Wetherill with a Lions Club plaque as a permanent remembrance of the award.  

The 2022 Citizen of the Year, Bill Herr, shared a table with the Wetherill and Ring families and was especially pleased to congratulate the Lions’ new honoree–because Gary was his student at Riverdale High School in Mt. Blanchard, Ohio.

The dinner took place at Bluffton University’s Marbeck Center with Lion John Rich serving as emcee. Gary and Lois Wetherill were joined by their son Andy, with other children and grandchildren members having visited just days earlier for the April 8 total solar eclipse.

For more information about the Bluffton Lions Club, visit