BEATRICE – A retired banker perhaps best known for his efforts to develop a new Beatrice Humane Society Shelter and the new Beatrice Community Hospital is this year’s Homestead Days Parade Grand Marshal.

John Rypma was chosen at a celebration ice cream social Thursday night, held outside the Gage County Historical Society Museum.

Beatrice Area Chamber Executive Director Angie Bruna said Rypma served in local banking for 42 years, 24 of those as CEO of First National Bank of Beatrice. He’s been involved in numerous organizations and interests.  "John has a big heart and is willing to volunteer to make his home, Beatrice, a better place to live. Join me in congratulating John, as this year's Grand Marshal."

Rypma is a native of northern Kansas and moved to Beatrice 54 years ago. He first worked in farming, served in Vietnam and then worked in Kansas City. After moving to Beatrice and then leaving for a few years, Rypma said Beatrice always felt like his hometown.

"I was the happiest person in the world when I finally came back in September of 1996...and I've been here ever since. Thank you all, so very, very much. It's a wonderful community, wonderful people. Just like raising the money for the Humane Society, we couldn't afford to borrow money....we had to raise it all before we started. We raised $1.4 million to build that shelter. That cannot happen without a community that's really behind us."

Rypma and his wife Barb were honored at Thursday night’s event. They’ll ride in Saturday morning’s 10 a.m. parade on Court Street, through the downtown area.