Honoring A True Legend

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It's an honor people in Belpre will never forget. People gathered to recognize Marie Gustke who is being honored for owning four businesses in the city for 66 years.

"I just enjoy being in business and the people of Belpre have been so kind and good to me that i didn't want to quit, but it's gotten to where I had to," says Gustke.

Gustke and her husband, Charles, opened their first business in Belpre, Gustke's store Company in September of 1946.

"He'd written his mother and said when I come home, I want to go into business. And so he was home for about a year and the W.D. Miller store was for sale and so he purchased that," she added.

Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce Member, Susie Ashley, wanted to make sure Gustke was honored for her contributions to the community.

"Marie Gutske is a person who went through with a sponge full of water and she sprinkled love and business and encouragement over the entire community," said Ashley.

The community also wanted to make sure Gustke was honored as they showed their support.

"Marie opening up the memory mall and preserving history. That's one thing I will never forget it's just the help preserve our local history," said Dana Fouss.

"Well when they started with the dry good store, why she would take her children with her, put them in the playpen," said Gustke's sister, Freeda McGrirr.

Belpre Mayor, Mike Lorentz, presented Gutske with a key to the city, but most importantly, continuing her legacy as an inspiration to future Belpre business owners.

"At first, you wonder whether it's going to go and as it starts right, people just keep coming, so it's a joy," says Gustke.

The Memory Mall and Belpre True Value were other businesses Gustke owned in Belpre.

At the mall, she held as many as 20 vendors with variety of items from furniture to knickknacks.

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