Marion native Duane Church circled back home after traveling across the country for his career. Now retired, he serves the community out of his passion for cycling, while improving his neighborhood and volunteering with his church.
Church graduated from Marion High School, then earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University. He began his career in Anderson with Delco Remy, then moved to Georgia, then Michigan, and even spent time in Mexico. He retired from Delphi after most of his years working for General Motors, and returned to Marion to care for his mother.
In 2008, he began volunteering for the Cardinal Greenway. As an avid bicyclist, Church works hard to improve the Grant County section of the Greenway – mowing, trimming trees, cleaning up trash and debris, painting, and maintaining park benches. “The Cardinal Greenway is a fantastic asset to Marion and Grant County…great for families. It’s run by volunteers and completely funded by donations. It’s wonderful to run, walk, or bike. It goes from Jonesboro to Sweetser. Unfortunately, there is a 10-mile gap from Gaston to Jonesboro. Put a bike on the back of your car, and you can ‘run’ the whole thing,” Church explained.
Church moved within Marion one year to an area that, at the time, did not have a neighborhood association. After asking around, he was connected with the City of Marion Neighborhood Association Coordinator, Kayla Johnson, who encouraged him to start one there. In Sept. 2018, the Sunnycrest-Weslea Neighborhood Association was born. Church has since been leading the association with help from other dedicated members. They inform neighbors through meetings with educational speakers, fliers, the Nextdoor app, and a Facebook Page. Meetings are held on the 3rd Monday of each month at Sunnycrest United Methodist Church, and usually attract 1 – 2 dozen people. “We educate neighbors on things like trash pickup, large item pickup, city codes, and try to work together to keep our neighborhood clean and safe. A lot of our neighbors don’t have computers, so we’ve even gone door-to-door to keep them informed,” said Church. Sunnycrest-Weslea supports City events and activities, and is scheduled for their first cleanup this spring.
Kayla Johnson stated, “Duane’s leadership has been critical to the stability of the Sunnycrest-Westlea Neighborhood Association. He has influenced many neighbors to come together and learn resources for the betterment of their neighborhood. He has hosted speakers to learn more about civic processes and give healthy feedback at times. His dedication is contagious, and he’s a joy to work with as a neighborhood leader.”
Church uses his people skills, interests, and hobbies to serve his community. “I like to get to know all my neighbors and meet new people. That’s why I volunteer. The nice thing about riding your bike around is that you can stop and talk to people as opposed to just passing them by in a car.”
Church is also a member of Sunnycrest United Methodist Church. He runs their sound system and is active with their committees. He also volunteers for special events held at the Marion Municipal Airport.