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Pool dedicated to55-year employee, Ronny Ferrell

Andy Dorian of the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department, left, speaks to those gathered for the dedication of the Ronny Ferrell Hannibal Aquatic Center on Thursday. Contributed photo.


As a teenager in 1968, Ronny Ferrell went to work as a basket-room and concession employee at the Hannibal Community Pool. Every summer following, he continued his connection with the aquatic facility, in the status of lifeguard and later pool manager.

He was committed to continue serving at the pool in the summer of 2023, when death intervened. He died June 3, 2023, on the day the pool was scheduled to open for the season.

On Thursday, May 16, 2024, the facility which has served as a summer season recreation spot since 1964, was officially rededicated in honor of Ronny Ferrell. New signage has been installed, and family and friends gathered along with city officials for a ceremony honoring the man so dedicated to swim safety and education.

Mary Lynne Richards, an employee of the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department, as a teen worked for several years as a lifeguard under Ferrell’s charge. She feels privileged to have also worked beside him in her capacity with Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department. She said it was fulfilling to work with him in both capacities.

“When he hit 50 years as a pool employee - how common is that?” she asked. “We wondered how to commemorate this.

“He wanted nothing to do with a celebration,” Richards said. “He just wanted a party with the lifeguards. He liked doing what he did. He liked being under the radar. He was a hard worker who worked with the lifeguards and gave swim lessons. It kept him young.”

While his association with the pool was noteworthy, it was just his “summer gig,” Richards said. He taught special education for the Hannibal Public Schools for 31 years. He taught at Pettibone, Stowell, Oakwood, and Veterans Elementary Schools and Hannibal High School from 1976-2007.

“That was who he was. That was his passion. Everyone loved him,” Richards said. 

Ann Lear, a lifelong friend of Ronny Ferrell, said that he maintained very high standards for pool employees. Each lifeguard had to pass Red Cross standards of certification.

“He wanted those guards highly trained,” Lear said. “He had high standards. Those lifeguards have lives in their hands.”

In addition, “back in the day lifeguards had to clean the pool and bathrooms, and get gum off the pool deck. That was what was expected,” she said. While the lifeguards grumbled about these extra duties, “he was not only teaching them to work, he also had them working more hours so they could make more money.”

In addition to his management duties, he also taught summer swim lessons. 

Lear believes that by naming the pool facility in his honor, it will help keep his memory alive.

“Anybody who works with youth of Hannibal for 55 years deserves something named after him,” Lear said. “He did more than just work there; his staff loved him.

“I thought as long as people remember him, look at pool and think of him, those stories (about him) will start flowing. As long as the stories keep happening, he’s still with us.”

Megan Miller, left, one of Ronny Ferrell’s former students, drew a picture for the life guard room. She presented the picture to Ann Lear, right, during the dedication ceremony. Contributed photo.

Pictured by the sign bearing their family member’s name are, from left, Matt Wealer, Camilla Ferrel, Kim Ferrel, Mollie Ferrel, Que Ferrel, Robby Ferrel (Robbie Walden in front of him), Lana Ferrel, Kelli Jaenicke, Scott Jaenicke, Richy Blaine, Micah Blaine and Booker Blaine (in Micah’s arms). Contributed photo

Ronny Ferrell, who worked at the Hannibal community pool for 55 years. He died in June 2023. Contributed photo.


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