It was love of the area’s people that beckoned Harold and Shirley Grinstead to retire to Florence, and it’s that love that keeps them here.
The couple will be grand marshals of the Florence Labor Day parade Sept. 2.
They moved to Florence in 1999 when Harold retired after a career as a ranch worker and farmhand that stretches back so far he can’t even say how many years.
“Ever since I was big enough to walk out behind a milk cow, I’ve looked at the back end of a cow,” Harold said.
The couple are native to Elkhart, although Harold’s family moved around a bit while he was growing up. He returned to Elkhart when he married Shirley, and they raised two daughters and a son there.
Then Harold’s work took him elsewhere, and the couple lived at Cedar Point while he worked at a ranch from 1983 to 1989. After that, it was a ranch north of Topeka.
“Finally I told him, you’re getting tired, you need to just quit,” Shirley said.
Harold competed in team roping from the time he was a youngster until 2006. His display of buckles and watches shows he did well, although he modestly said there were others who were better than he was.
Their Florence home is decorated with a pair of longhorns, a metal cowboy sculpture, a windmill sculpture, and other western-themed touches.
Shirley always wanted to stay close to home and family. She worked an assortment of part-time jobs, often helping Harold with his work. She rode horses, herded cattle, and did other farm and ranch chores.
“She built a lot of fence,” Harold said.
She couldn’t staple barbed wire to a post, but she could certainly dig a posthole, he said.
When the couple lived at Cedar Point, she worked in a nursing home.
Since moving to Florence, she’s volunteered at the Harvey House and is on the Florence Library board.
The request to serve as grand marshals was unexpected.
“I was shocked,” Harold said.
“I was surprised and shocked,” Shirley said.
The parade will begin at 11 a.m. Labor Day on Main St.