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Sunday August 19, 2018

pioneer land mainstay laid to rest

Monday, October 23, 2017 14:28 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

Dave Slater was never a student or teacher at a one room school house but he was a fixture at the one at Pioneer Land at the LaPorte County fairgrounds.

Slater of LaPorte was laid to rest Monday.

He was 82.

Slater was among the volunteers at Pioneer Land who've been there since the 1830's village began going up in 1995.

''He enjoyed people. He enjoyed kids a lot. He always kidded around a little bit with people and kind of made it fun in the one room school that we have,'' said Dick Reel, a key figure in getting Pioneer Land started.

Slater retired as a teacher from the LaPorte Community School Corporation in 1994 and sort of adopted the one room school house as its ''Head School Master.''

Ron Schafer, chairman of the Pioneer Land development committee, said Slater learned the history of one-room school houses and gave presentations on how they operated to individuals walking through the doors.

Slater was also in charge of scheduling tours to the village by area schools in the spring and fall.

''He was really a big part of Pioneer Land,'' said Schafer.

His presentations included stories about one room school house teachers before pupils showed up starting a fire in a wood burning stove much like the one inside the one room school house at Pioneer Land.

Slater would also hold up a paddle while explaining how discipline was carried out by teachers in one room school houses.

He also had a daily planner written on a chalk board just beneath an American flag that had one star for each of the states in the union during the early 1800's.

Slater was also influential in starting Christmas at Pioneer Land now approaching its 18th year.

The grounds decorated for the holiday season are open to the public the first weekend in December with cookies and hot cider served in the log cabin and horse drawn wagon rides among the highlights.

About 4,500 people came out last year.

''He'll be missed,'' said Reel.

Schafer said whoever replaces Slater as Head School Master will have some big shoes to fill.

''Nothing was too big or too difficult for him to at least try and accomplish,'' said Schafer.

According to his obituary, Slater was a teacher for 33-years and a veteran of the U.S Army.

He's survived by his wife, Nancy, along with two daughters and five grandchildren.
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