Darrell French was honored by village council Jan. 2 as he stepped down as scoutmaster of the Wellington Boy Scouts.
It’s a position he’d held 21 years — and during that time, 43 Eagle Scouts earned the prestigious rank under French’s watch.
Current scouts as well as friends and family were on hand to give a standing ovation as council feted his contributions to the community.
“That really meant a lot to me,” said French, an Eagle Scout himself. “Having them all there added so much. It touched me pretty good, seeing all those faces in the crowd and standing up there. It’s bittersweet and I’m going to miss it but it’s time for a change.”
French was presented a newly minted bicentennial coin by mayor Hans Schneider.
“People like Mr. French build the young men of our community and help build the future of our entire country,” said Schneider. “Over the years, he’s seen quite a few go through his ranks. On behalf of the village, we’d like to thank him for his commitment and being a leader of men.”
Taking over as scoutmaster will be 29-year-old Roger Simpson, who earned his Eagle Scout credentials under French.
Simpson said he hopes to drive adult participation in the Wellington scouts back up to levels seen in the past. He also looks forward to girls being welcomed into the organization in 2019.
“The kids are sad about losing Mr. French but they understand that he needs to step away,” he said. “Twenty-one years is a long time to be a scoutmaster. I just want to get people more involved going forward. Involvement with adults is kind of falling behind. A lot of adults are registered but many end up not being available because of work.”
“Me being up here and taking over shows what (French) was able to teach,” he said. “I’m able to continue what he did because he’s that good of a teacher. I’m happy to pass that experience along to boys and girls.”
Seeing Simpson grow from a young boy into a leader is a feeling French described as overwhelming.
“I’ve thought about Roger as my replacement for years,” he said. “I knew he’d be the best choice to pick up the slack. After talking with him, we all knew it was time for change. He’s going to have the same support here in Wellington that I did and I know he’s going to be OK.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.