GROW RETURNS TO EARTH
Master tractor mechanic Harold Grow returned to the earth he so lovingly toiled over most of the last nine decades last Saturday afternoon.
The former Wyoming County commissioner, 93, died Tuesday, Jan. 21, and was laid to rest in Sunnyside Cemetery, led there by a John Deere tractor, and on the back of a 1929 Chevy pickup truck he restored for Bartron Supply.
The business provided a haven for Grow where for the past half century he spent quite a bit of time helping to repair tractors.
They were mostly John Deere ones that he worked on, but Glenn Stark recalled that in a pinch he would also service other makes.
At a memorial service at Harding-Litwin Funeral Home in Tunkhannock Saturday morning, Tunkhannock Methodist Church Pastor Peter Geschwindner paid tribute by reading Paul Harvey’s address to the Future Farmers of America in 1978, now famously known as, ‘So God Made a Farmer.’
He noted, “God said “I need somebody that can shape an ax handle, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire make a harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And…who, at planting time and harvest season, will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon. Then, pain’n from “tractor back,” put in another 72 hours. So, God made a farmer!”
The words seemed to punctuate Grow’s life, born on a farm near Jenningsville and having not spent too much of his it away from doing the things framers have to do.
Geschwindner said Grow’s favorite colors were green, yellow and blue.
“Green and yellow for John Deere tractors, of course,” the pastor smiled, “and then blue for the Democratic Party he would sooner or later tell you before you said something you might later regret.”
“He never forced his politics down anyone’s throat and served in days when Republicans and Democrats didn’t mind working for the common good,” Geschwindner said. “And, he was proud that at least in Wyoming County that legacy has continued.”
Grow attended the Mehoopany schools and in his early adulthood spent 28 years working on the Brungess Farm near where Pizza Hut is today in Tunkhannock.
The pastor noted that across the street from Pizza Hut at McDonald’s was an old tractor, that Grow once told him he reckoned he worked on it at one time in his past.
“He was always doing something for somebody,” Tunkhannock Mayor Norm Ball, a Democrat, recalled, and that helping hand often translated into votes, although Ball said he doubted Grow had an ulterior motive.
Grow once noted that ne never planned on becoming a county official, but he was convinced by his employer, Stark Bartron Jr., to run for commissioner in 1975, while he was attending a sales conference in Chicago.
In a 2007 interview, he noted, “Bartron gave me all the time there to run” and Grow served until, 1988.
Although a very graceful man, he often admitted that politics was a strange business.
He once recalled while campaigning in Nicholson, that he came across a man who asked if he was related to the Galusha Grow, who once represented the area in Congress as a Republican and served as Speaker of the House at the outbreak of the of the Civil War.
The man told Grow that the former congressman was no good, “And I said ‘Well, you can’t always choose your relations.”
When he got all done, the man said, “Well, Mr. Grow, I support you.”
While commissioner, he was nominated to be a liaison to the conservation district, and 20 years later even after stepping down as commissioner he was still serving, eventually getting a reward for his good service to the county.