Don Arvon Hallett is my joke man. Almost every time I see him, he tells me a joke. Most of them are pretty funny. I've known Don since I can remember and he is also a distant cousin, thus he always calls me, "Cuz." That tends to make me giggle, too.

Certainly, Don is an interesting fellow. He's a joiner and has been active in many local clubs, including the Waveland Masonic Lodge; Indiana Scottish Rite; a Charter Member of the AARP board; president of the Montgomery County and head of the Indiana Council of Aging (for 17 years). Politics is one of Don's loves, and he served as Democratic Precinct Committeeman.

Education wise, he graduated from New Market HS in 1951 where he was active in basketball, plays, chorus and the yearbook staff. Afterwards, he served four years in the Air Force, three of which were in England, then went on to attend Indiana Business College, IU, plus Ivy Tech classes. Then, his professional life was full-blown with administrative positions with the state of Indiana, director of Occupational Development for six counties and managing a Satellite Operation of Ivy Tech.

One of the best parts of Don's life is wife, Ruth Ellen Hester, whom he married in the 1st Baptist Church in Crawfordsville. Ruth said she married Don for fun. They are truly both funny and always joking. Ruth said they have the same sense of humor. In fact, while talking to Don about this article, he joked that when he and Ruth's sister, Mary Beth, were in the same grade that the first time he saw Ruth was when the girls' mother brought in Ruth for Mary Beth's show-and-tell. He thought she was sweet and cute then and still does. They celebrated their 47th year this June. Ruth taught for over three decades in the South district, and was one of the original teachers at Southmont. Both my children had her for English and simply loved her. She always wrote the nicest things on their papers!

In 1989, Don received the Sagamore of the Wabash, a coveted award given by the governor of the state of Indiana. Sagamore is the term the Algonquin-speaking Indian tribes used for their chiefs. The award has gone to astronauts, ambassadors, artists, musicians and politicians and is rendered for distinguished service to the state.

Don is the son of Bert Wayne and Frances Pollitt Hallett; Bert in turn the son of Harvey Perry and Druzilla Skimmerhorn Hallett; next was Zenith Jackson Hallett (and wife, Mary Ann Smith, who was my third great aunt). Zenith Jackson was the son of James "Zenith" Hallett from Kennebec County, Maine. This Zenith Hallett, was a War of 1812 soldier, guarding the Fort on the Kennebec River when he was only 14 years old. Zenith came here with wife, Cynthia Rinker, in February of 1828, purchasing an original land grant near the Shades State Park. They and many of their descendants are buried in the tiny Hallett cemetery in that area. Don has always been proud of his heritage, and rightfully so, as Zenith was a hard working, intellectual man, as were they all.

Not only enamored of this ancestor, Don is definitely proud of their own son, Rick. Rick was born and raised in Montgomery County, and graduated from Southmont HS. I was lucky to have Rick as a page when I was Children's Librarian at the old Crawfordsville District Public Library. We had a lot of fun. When I asked Rick about growing up with Don as a dad, he said, "He taught me very important lessons about being a Christian and a Democrat. I think the latter is only slightly less important in his mind." As you can see, the humor lives on. Rick is a linguistics professor at Northeastern Illinois University, is married to an amazing woman, Jill, and has an absolutely adorable "little Don" named Julian.

Some of Don's favorite things are his farm. In fact, he so loves it that he doesn't want to go anywhere but Brown Township. I enjoyed meeting another favorite of Don's, their cat that is 13 and just beautiful. Ruth joked that the cat lets them live with it. He enjoys politics, reading nonfiction (they take four newspapers); IU basketball, the Pacers and Colts. They both love to dance, although Ruth says she's not very good at it. Don loves to joke that watching Lawrence Welk was their romantic evening, he with his bib overalls on and her in hair curlers.

There are few in Montgomery County who do not know Don in some capacity. He has always been an energetic man, ready to take on any task and does a good job when he sets his mind to doing so. I always enjoy Don and Ruth when I run into them and appreciate Don letting me use his interesting life for this week's Around The County! Thanks, Cuz!