If you want to know more about Bob Garrison, look no further than the walls of his home. Every inch of space is covered with framed pictures—a black-and-white photo of his father, a portrait of his parents, a photo with his arm slung around his brother, photos of fond memories with his children and grandchildren, pictures of dairy cows from days spent on what used to be his family’s dairy across the street.
“This little house, it’s full of love,” Garrison said.
Garrison, the Wallkill St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2019 grand marshal, spent his entire life in Wallkill. He lives in the house he was born in. His family is everything, and the reason he can’t imagine living anywhere else. His daughter, Deborah, lives just down the street, and his son, Daniel, is remodeling the family farm house across the street.
“There is no reason to move. I’ve got a beautiful family here,” Garrison said.
His father was a former town supervisor, so Garrison learned to be involved in the community at an early age.
His family was involved in organizing the first Wallkill Volunteer Ambulance Corp in 1966. He was the first elected president, a term he served for five years.
He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Wallkill Savings and Loan for 28 years, and he was a part of the Southern Ulster County Rotary, the St. Patrick’s Day Committee, the Wallkill Lions Club, the New Paltz Agway, Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation Committee.
With his amount of community involvement, it’s easy to see why Garrison was chosen as grand marshal. He requested a float instead of the customary convertible so he could ride in the parade with his entire family. His son will drive the tractor his father sold in the 50s.
Garrison lobbied for Ulster County to implement agriculture exemptions to aid the industry he loved.
He spent the first half of his life working on the family farm, which used to have orchards and dairy cows. He loved working with the animals and being outside.
But, help fell away and eventually the farm became too much for him to take care of. He sold the cattle in 1993 and started driving school buses.
He loves working with kids in his second career.
“They never forget you,” Garrison said.
He pointed to a framed picture on the wall that said, “I love you, please remember me,” written in marker, the letters unsteady in the way of a child’s handwriting. He still doesn’t know which of his students gave him the artwork, but the gesture touched him so much he became emotional when he received it.
“I cried a little,” Garrison said.
He still cultivates the farm’s fields with hay and corn, and he keeps several horses and a few meat cows. Every Fourth of July, he holds a big party on the hill of the farm for everyone in the community.
Every party he throws, committee he joins and bus he drives is a tribute to the community he loves.
“I love this town,” Garrison said.