Joe Slanser (1932-2018) engineered a legacy for the Marion community, thanks to his lifelong love of locomotives and family devotion to his church. His legacy for the benefit of Marion is two funds – the Joe Slanser Marion Union Station Fund and the Joe Slanser Epworth United Methodist Church Fund – making his the second largest individual gift to Marion Community Foundation to-date.
Love of community was modeled by “Joe Junior’s” parents. His father, Joseph, owned and operated the Slanser Lumber & Coal Company, building homes throughout the city and selling coal to heat them. An avid golfer, Joe Sr. also helped build the Marion Country Club – and personally knew Marion native President Warren G. Harding for whom it was built.
It was from his father’s office at the corner of Wilson and Greenwood Streets where 4-year-old Joe Junior began watching the trains and learning to identify them by their unique whistles, many of which he could imitate.
Joe graduated from Harding High School in 1950 and made a 36-year career with GTE (now Verizon and Frontier). A charter member of Marion’s Model Railroad Club (1950), Joe is credited with helping to develop the Marion Union Station into a family-friendly destination.
Joe’s gift to Epworth commemorates his mother, Hazel Markwith Slanser, and her career in teaching.