By Leah Sander
MENTONE — Mentone has been Ed and Lee Ann Rock’s home for more than 40 years.
“It’s a small town with small town values and caring people that’s just been a great place to live and to raise our kids,” said Lee Ann.
This upcoming weekend, the couple’s adopted hometown will be recognizing them. The pair are the grand marshals for the town’s Egg Festival’s parade, set to start at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 4.
Ed is originally from Tippecanoe, and Lee Ann is from Bourbon. The two began dating while students at Triton High School.
They would marry in January 1977, a month after Lee Ann graduated from DePauw University.
Lee Ann would eventually be hired at Mentone Elementary School, which led to the couple moving to Mentone from Warsaw.
“I really liked Mentone,” said Lee Ann. “I really liked teaching in Mentone, and we decided that when we started a family we wanted our kids to go where I taught, and so we moved to Mentone.”
She noted that “everything just fell into place” regarding their move to Mentone, including their selling their home at a time when interest rates were high.
“I believe that we were put in Mentone,” she said.
They would raise their two daughters, Maggie and Allison, in the same home where they still reside today. Ed and Lee Ann now have three grandchildren.
Lee Ann taught for 44 years at Mentone, retiring in 2021. She taught second grade for the first two years, then fourth grade for all the rest.
“Teaching was my passion, so I gave it everything I had,” she said. “I spent a lot of hours before and after school and on weekends.”
Ed serves as Kosciusko County Emergency Management Agency director, having being hired for the role in March 2003. He also assists with emergency response training around the state.
He’s been involved with the Mentone Fire Department as a volunteer fireman for 40 years and was a reserve police officer for a time there, later being a reserve for the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office. He also served for a time on the Mentone Town Council.
The Rocks have also been active in the community through their church, Mentone United Methodist Church.
Ed mentioned that Mentone to him means “family,” with both he and Lee Ann noting the relationships they’ve built there over the years.
The Rocks say they’ve actually known for about a year that they would be the parade grand marshals. Tim Croy, one of the festival’s organizers, asked them after last year’s event.
“It’s an honor, plain and simple,” said Ed. “It’s very humbling,” said Lee Ann.
The recognition is one of several that the two have received recently.
Last year, Ed and Lee Ann received an award from the Mentone Fire Department, and Ed got one from the Kosciusko County Fire Association.
Lee Ann also received an award for being teacher of the year at Mentone Elementary not long before she retired.
The Rocks also shared their favorite memories from the Egg Festival over the years. Ed noted he’s helped direct traffic for the parade as a Mentone fireman.
One year there was a muzzleloader shoot for the festival, and he donned buckskin for it.
He directed traffic and “people stopped,” when they noticed what he was wearing.
“People got out, took pictures,” he said.
Lee Ann said she enjoys having garage sales at their home every year during the Egg Festival.
“Mentone, it’s a good place. There are a lot of good people in Mentone,” she said.