The Peacemaker: 40 years of love, legacy and support

By Jessica Vaughn
Posted 6/12/24

As the 76th Annual Belle Fair kicks off on Wednesday, June 19, with the parade, many enjoy seeing the Grand Marshall lead the way. It’s a highlight of our small-town community, a special one. …

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The Peacemaker: 40 years of love, legacy and support


As the 76th Annual Belle Fair kicks off on Wednesday, June 19, with the parade, many enjoy seeing the Grand Marshall lead the way. It’s a highlight of our small-town community, a special one. The Grand Marshall has always been handpicked by the Belle Fair Board members, and they’ve always chosen to ask those individuals who love  the community; those who volunteer, sponsor and dedicate themselves to the community. 

For the 76th Annual Belle Fair Grand Marshall, things look a little different for the parade line-up. The Grand Marshall is being honored in-memory.

The 2024 Belle Fair Board is honored to announce the 76th Annual Belle Fair Grand Marshall to be Mr. Ronnie Terrill.

For many years, several members always wanted Ronnie to be the Grand Marshall, but he declined, as usual. That was just Ronnie always putting others before himself. This year his beloved family will lead our parade in his honor and in his memory. 

Ronnie began his journey with the Belle Fair in 1983. The theme that year was “You Were There.” Ronnie spent 40 years straight on the Belle Fair Board committee until losing the battle to cancer  on Jan. 1. 

Ronnie spent many steps following Albert Bray and working side by side of Sam Jones. Ronnie led several individuals and of course taught many along the way.

Ronnie and his first love, Sharon, started the High Gate 4-H Club in 1977. They didn’t just start the club; they were also club leaders and much more. Ronnie was an avid supporter of all things agriculture and there wasn’t much that didn’t make him smile. He loved the Belle and Bland communities with everything he was. 

Ronnie based his life around Belle and the surrounding area his entire life, even as he graduated from Belle High School in 1962. After graduation, Ronnie worked at O’Sullivan’s in Owensville and on the family farm. He attended Linn State Technical College, earning a degree in drafting and design. Upon graduation, he worked at MoDOT as a draftsman designing bridges. He worked for Howard Dahms and August Rieke in the feed store hauling feed and livestock, and on weekends he drove a livestock truck for Clyde Elrod hauling stock to the Stockyards in East St. Louis. Ronnie later worked for the Maries County Sheriff’s Office as a dispatcher, then a deputy until becoming the treasurer for Maries County, a position he held for 20 years from January 1, 1979 to December 31, 1998. After a short break, he then went to work for the Maries County Road Department and became a supervisor before retirement. He continued to work there part-time until his cancer diagnosis. 

In 1980, Ronnie and Sharon also opened the local feed store, Belle Feed Mill, Inc. and started a trucking business, which they ran for 17 years. In 1987, they took on a new adventure and purchased the old lumber yard building in Belle. 

Ronnie loved his community and would donate or give his talents to help wherever needed. 

Ronnie was the Belle Fair Board President from 2002 to 2007 and then again inducted in 2017 to his last earthly Belle Fair 2023. 

Ronnie had served on the Maries County University Extension Council, also serving as President, where he was given the Degree of Honorary Chapter Farmer from the Belle FFA Chapter. Ronnie also spent several years on the Maries County R-2 Board of Education.

Ronnie had a passion for farming and owned a Century Farm. Ronnie and family were honored with the Missouri Century Farm Recognition award in 2011. The Terrill Century Farm dates back to 1910. The original owner was Louis Vogeler, great-grandfather to Ronnie. The farm consists of 240 acres with the original farmhouse still standing. Ronnie loved checking his cows, riding his gator around the farm with Diane, the love he found later in his life. Ronnie loved helping his neighbors.

As many recognize the Belle Fair Board members are a solid group of volunteers of all ages and let’s just face the facts, who can be a handful at times; especially that Jimmy Zumwalt, Hollis Sturdy and Cindy Barbarick, the other vetereans on the Fair Board, whom he served side by side for many years..  Ronnie was the boards “Peacemaker;” he kept them in line. He was the glue.

“We really miss Ronnie, but his lasting legacy has provided a positive impact, closeness and commitment among the board,” current Fair Board President Bruce Shanks said. “He really helped put several things in place to make it easier to run the fair, but he left some big shoes to fill. He was a really good guy with a soft-spoken patience about him. Everyone on the board looked up to him.”

Ronnie loved watching the parade and sneaking a few pieces of candy in those bib overalls of his. He loved biting into the famous fish sandwiches and watching the smiles on the kids’ faces through the midway. Ronnie loved the exhibit hall and watching the youth show and sell their cattle, and he loved everything on the track and arena. His lawn chairs were always set out way in the back of the field near the fair office so he could enjoy the entertainment but still be near the office and commotion if he was needed. 

Ronnie’s greatest love was his daughter, Rhonda Rodgers, his family, friends and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Ronnie was a kind, soft hearted man who never met a stranger. He always had a smile and hug to give and a joke or story to tell. He was a patient man with a heart of gold. 

Ronnie loved the Belle Fair. He loved the beautiful community, and it loved him. 

Please join the Fair Board on Wednesday, June 19, after the parade at the main stage at 7:15 pm for an honorary dedication to our beloved Peacemaker, Ronnie Terrill. 

Ronnie selflessly gave himself all year round for four days and four nights of family fun for 40 years. For the 76th Annual Belle Fair, please join us as we dedicate four days and four nights to Ronnie Terrill. 

In 1983, the 35th Annual Belle Fair had the theme “You Were There.” We will celebrate this year with “Country Nights & Carnival Lights” as the 76th Annual Belle Fair in remembrance and honor of Ronnie Terrill and all the things he loved dearly about the fair. And we will all know “he was here.”