By Wayne Gates –
Longtime Brown County Agricultural Society President Orville Whalen has passed away.
Whalen was society president for 22 years, during which the Brown County Fair continued to grow into one of the biggest fairs in the state, fulfilling its nickname as the “Little State Fair.”
Whalen was also a Jefferson Township Trustee for 22 years and worked in the past as a volunteer on the Russellville Fire Department.
Agricultural Society Secretary/Treasurer Juanita Barricklow said that Whalen was all of those things and “above all a Brown County farmer.”
“He just loved Brown County and its people. His favorite thing to do during the fair was to sit behind the office counter at the fair where he answered the phone. And heaven only knew what his answer to your phone question might be,” Barricklow said.
“He met and visited the entire six days of the fair with everyone who came through that office door.”
Whalen was first elected to the Board of Directors of the Brown County Agricultural Society in 1981 and served during his first fair as a director at the 1982 fair.
Barricklow said that Whalen served on “just about every committee there was” throughout his time on the fair board.
The newest merchant building on the fairgrounds was named after Whalen in 2012. He was named Grand Marshal of the fair parade in 2015.
“All of us are really going to miss him. It’s going to be hard to imagine the office without him sitting in his chair and greeting everyone like he always did,” said Barricklow.
She added that one of Whalen’s favorite duties at the fair was hosting the Senior Ceremony, where he presented awards to the oldest man, oldest woman, person who attended the most Brown County Fairs and the couple married the longest.
Whalen served 36 total years on the fair board, including four as Vice President and 22 years as president.
His wife Marjorie also served on the fair board, working as Secretary/Treasurer of the society in 1995 and 1996. His oldest daughter, Lori, was Junior Fair Queen in 1983.
The following is his obituary as submitted by the Meeker Funeral Home in Russellville:
Orville N. Whalen, age 82 of Russellville, OH passed away Sunday August 20, 2017 at his residence. He was born January 1, 1935, in Mason County, KY the son of the late William Orville and Margaret (Everman) Whalen. He was also preceded in death by his wife Marjorie (Davis) Whalen.
A fixture of Russellville, many will remember Orville for his quick wit and willingness to help any who asked. Orville’s presence will be missed this year at the Brown County Fair where he had served from 1982 until his death. Orville was an Army veteran, a long-time tobacco farmer, and also worked for more than 35 years in the Ripley, OH tobacco markets. He also served as a Jefferson Township Trustee for 22 years, was a member of the Russellville Life Squad for 8, and spent 35 years with the Russellville Volunteer Fire Department.
He is survived by his children; Lori Wheeler and husband Matt of Milford, OH, Steven Whalen and wife Mary of Wisconsin, and Candace Farst and husband Doug of Georgetown, 3 sisters and brothers-in-law; Katie and Charles Leibrock of Russellville, Midge and Bob Abercrombie of TN, and Jean and Don Rothzen of IL and grandchildren; Holly (VanKeuren) Siebenaler, Maria Farst and Quinn Wheeler.
Visitation will be held Friday August 25 from 5:00 – 8:00 PM at the Meeker Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 11:00 AM at the Meeker Funeral Home in Russellville with Bill Graybill, Brown County Veterans Chaplin, HUB Ministry officiating. Burial will follow at the Linwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to: Hospice of Hope Maysville, Brown County Sr. Fairboard c/o Orville Whalen, or the VA of Georgetown, OH.
Many thanks to the staff at Hospice of Hope, Maysville and family and friends who have helped us in this time of need.
Friends and Families may sign Orville’s online guestbook at www.meekerfuneralhomes.com. Questions call Meeker Funeral Home 937-377-4182.