Benson, Harrow honored as grand marshals of Heritage Day Parade
Saturday in Deltaville
by Tom Chillemi
The 2013 Deltaville Heritage Day Parade grand marshals, Ruth Benson and Edward Harrow Sr., are community citizens who exemplify what it means to live “from the heart,” said Deltaville Community Association (DCA) president Carolyn Norton Schmalenberger.
For decades, Benson has worked selflessly serving others in the community with the Middlesex County Volunteer Rescue Squad (MCVRS) in Deltaville. “During all hours of day and night, and many times sacrificing her own needs, Ruth came to the aid of her community making sure a sick or injured person got the medical attention needed as quickly as possible,” said Schmalenberger.
When thinking of the rescue squad in Deltaville, Ruth immediately comes to mind. For many years Benson was the first to open the doors at the squad and the last to close them, only to go out again in the middle of the night to the scene of an accident or to the home of someone in need, said Schmalenberger.
“I doubt Ruth Benson would ever allow herself to be recognized as a heroine because she views volunteerism simply as her duty,” said Schmalenberger. “Ruth has truly lived her life ‘from the heart’ for others.”
She is currently hospitalized and underwent surgery 2 weeks ago. She will not ride in the Heritage Day Parade on Saturday, July 6, at 2 p.m. However, squad members plan to make sure she is there in spirit.
Benson and Darlene Revere have been members of the MCVRS Auxiliary since the day it started 38 years ago. “People don’t realize the hours Ruth spent at the squad building,” said Revere. “Managing the weekly bingo takes most of all day and into the night.”
Benson is a leader, said Revere, and not having her around “feels funny . . . I miss her.”
Lori Messina, a paramedic with the rescue squad, said Benson is the “backbone of the auxiliary and the rescue squad.” She kept wonderful records and statistics, noted Messina, adding that Ruth often went “above and beyond the call of duty . . . anything that needed to be done, she would do it.”
Harrow is well known for his ability to preach powerful messages that resonate with people of all ages and all walks of life, said Schmalenberger. “Edward Harrow is compassionate, wise, and has a remarkably contagious sense of humor . . . enough to appropriately lighten up the most dire situation at a time when laughter is the best medicine.”
Still ministering at the age of 80, Rev. Harrow probably has joined more couples in marriage and delivered more eulogies than almost anyone in Deltaville, said Schmalenberger. “Edward’s generosity and love for his community exemplify living from the heart.”
Harrow served in the U.S. Army as a supply sergeant in Germany following World War II. He founded Middle Peninsula Insurance, which is operated today by his family.
Harrow is a humble honoree. “I’m honored by this recognition, but Heritage Day is about the community,” he said. “Whatever contributions I may have made were for the betterment of the community.”
Harrow added that a solid community is vital to keeping a sense of continuity from one generation to the next. “If we lose community, we lose all of our inheritance.”
While Harrow downplays his civic work, Ed Ruark said Harrow’s contributions are many and he has always helped young people, and recently worked to improve Camp Piankatank, a Baptist retreat at Hartfield. “He has a knack for getting along with people and people like him. He’s very well respected.”
John M. Bareford commented, “Mr. Harrow has the exceptional ability to be comfortable with both a dignitary and the ordinary citizen.”
The respect of the Middlesex community for Harrow is evidenced by the number of requests he receives to perform funeral services, said Bareford. “In times of sorrow, when emotions are laid bare, folks want Mr. Harrow to be with them, not just because he is a pastor, but because he is their friend.”