by Colin McEwen
Stow -- With more than 30 years of public service to the city of Stow, Don Coughlin said it was only natural for him to serve the city once again.
The former mayor has been selected to serve as the grand marshal of the Stow Fourth of July Parade.
"This parade is one of the staples of the community," he said. "To be chosen is quite an honor."
Coughlin, who served as Stow's mayor from 1988 to 2000, said the parade is just one way for him to stay involved in the community.
"This is one of the biggest parades in the area," he said. "For many families, this has become a family tradition -- we haven't missed many in the 30 years we've lived here."
Coughlin was nominated by friend and former co-worker John Earle, and was selected by a parade committee.
Coughlin said he and his wife, Ellen, moved to Stow in 1967, so she could finish her degree from The University of Akron, while he taught American politics at Stow High School.
The couple moved to Stow from Crestline, where Coughlin taught at Crestline High School for three years.
"When I interviewed with the [Stow] superintendent, I didn't know too much about Stow," he said. "I learned the mascot was a Bulldog -- the same as Crestline -- and thought maybe it was meant to be."
The couple stayed in Stow and raised four children. Coughlin taught at the school for more than 20 years.
"Living in the community, we participated in the government," he said. "That's how I got started in politics."
Coughlin served on City Council from 1984 to 1988. He said that when he became mayor in 1988, Karen Fritschel filled his seat on City Council and later followed in his footsteps, becoming mayor in 2004.
Fritschel said she is pleased Coughlin was chosen to be the grand marshal because of the many years of service he has provided to Stow.
"He did an excellent job for the city of Stow," she said. "He is a wonderful choice to be the grand marshal for the parade. [As mayor], he always was out and about. He knows the pulse of this city."
Fred Long, who served as grand marshal of the parade last year, said he offered some advice to Coughlin.
"I already told him he has to learn to wave like the Queen of England," Long joked, adding he is looking forward to viewing this year's parade from a different perspective -- his son's front yard on Kent Road.
"I can't think of anyone who is more deserving," Long said of Coughlin. "I think he has served the community well."
Coughlin said he keeps himself busy, serving as a member of the Stow-Munroe Falls Rotary Club, president-elect of the Stow-Munroe Falls Lions Club and president of the Stow Schools Foundation.
Coughlin said he also works one day a week for the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority as a public housing hearing officer.
He said community involvement is something in which he takes pride.
"You have to be a cheerleader for the community you live in," said Coughlin. "If you told me in college that I would be mayor of a city like Stow, I am not sure I would have championed that."
Coughlin said he looks forward to serving the city this Fourth of July.
"If you look at the past recipients -- they all worked extensively in city government or were just involved with the city," he said. "To follow in their footsteps is recognition for some of the things I have been involved with."
Editor's note: Associate Editor Andrea Cole contributed to this report.