David “Dave” Stannard was always up for a parade.
The Superior man didn’t just stand on the sidelines and watch; he was key to pulling the city’s annual Fourth of July celebration together for more than two decades.
“Dave was always there, always ready to go,” said Dan O’Neill, co-chair of the Citizens 4th of July Committee. “He was a good spear-header. It’s a bummer. It’s just not going to be the same.”
Stannard, 81, died Thursday, Nov. 12. Born Feb. 6, 1939, Stannard served his country in the U.S. Army and Wisconsin National Guard, his community as a city councilor representing North End and as a school bus driver for the School District of Superior for a quarter century.
“The kids just loved him,” said Fran Stannard, his wife of 33 years.
But it’s his response to a 1997 ad in the Telegram he will long be remembered for. The ad sought volunteers interested in reviving an Independence Day celebration after years without a Fourth of July parade.
With Stannard's help, Superior was back to marching bands, dance groups, skaters, classic cars, horses and floats traversing city streets for excited crowds by 1998.
“Twenty-two years of giving up your Fourth of July every year to put that on for the kids and people of Superior,” O’Neill said. “That’s pretty darn good I think ... He loved this community.”
But it wasn’t just his work marshalling marching groups on July 4. Planning for the midsummer celebration actually starts in January when a small group meets every month to plan the logistics of the parade. Stannard worked to raise money to cover expenses and became the parade’s chief promoter.
“He worked so hard for that parade … how much it meant to him to be able to put that parade on and the thousands of people there, smiling and having a great time,” O’Neill said
Roger Krob of Superior said he knew Stannard when they served together in the Wisconsin National Guard; the two were sent to Fort Lewis in Washington in the 1960s.
But it was Superior’s Fourth of July parade that made Krob and Stannard friends.
Krob is a member of the Sons of the Desert Laurel and Hardy Club that has participated in the parade for the last 16 years. With paper mache replicas of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy bobbing along the parade route, Krob said the group won best float for the last six years.
“He presented me with six different trophies, which was a surprise,” Krob said. “He called me up when I won … he must have enjoyed us like we enjoyed him.”
This year’s Fourth of July celebration was canceled because of the pandemic. Even if the parade had been held, Fran Stannard said her husband would have had to step aside because of his deteriorating health.
Still, when the small group of citizens starts meeting again, she said she plans to be there.
O’Neill said the next Fourth of July parade will be dedicated in Stannard’s memory.
“The best way to describe David is he was the glue that held us together,” O’Neill said.