At home with Christ

During his 48 years of living in the Marion community, Gary Hite has known only the world of agriculture. He is a grain farmer and works two part-time jobs, one with the Federal Farm Service Agency in Marion, where he has spent the past eight years. He is also the president of the nine-member board of the Marion Farmer's Market.

The market is in its second year. Gary and other Marion farmers hope local people give the market a chance. The farmers are trying to make the market an education tool for customers, giving them an opportunity to talk to the people who produce the products.

The Hites take produce to the market from their Scioto Prairie Farms and Harvest Time. Terri also bakes bread to sell at the market.

Gary met his future wife, Terri Theil, originally of Upper Sandusky, through mutual friends. The couple married 27 years ago. Together, they raised five children: David, 23; Crystal, 21; Tim, 18; Shawna, 12; and Joshua, 5. The Hites live on the same family farm Gary's grandparents bought back in 1944. That house has become their sanctuary.

"It's been a wonderful marriage," said Gary. "I've been blessed with a wonderful family. I couldn't ask for anything better to get stability and a good foundation for our home. We're able to trust each other."

Gary graduated from Ridgedale in 1973, but his children were all home-schooled. Tim is graduating this year. The family will have a reception for him.

"I do the homeschooling," said Terri. "I have a teacher's degree, but that's not why we homeschool. We homeschool because we want to keep Christ in our education. We keep the glory of Christ in our lives."

The Hites devoutly hold Bible studies in their home every other Sunday with five other families. Randy Calhoun of Marion has been coming to the Hites' Bible studies for more than two years. Together, they've traveled on a couple of missionary trips to Mexico. At one time, Calhoun belonged to the Hearts Toward Home Homeschool Support Group in Marion, of which Gary was the chairman.

"He's a good Christian man, who puts God first in all he does," Calhoun said of Gary. "They are very giving people. They support missions, like WMXL-FM 90.1 (Christian radio in Upper Sandusky)."

Gary said he never told his children that they have to follow in his foot steps with the family farm.

"Last year was the worst drought I've experienced," Gary said. "Then we had the hail storms later in the year that did a lot of damage. I've never seen a year like that before. Hopefully, we don't experience too many years like that."

Gary has enjoyed watching his family grow up and mature. David, Tim and Crystal all work full-time jobs. Crystal is engaged to be married in September.

"Our kids are great," said Terri Hite. "They grew up fast."

The kids keep their father busy doing family things. Gary and Terri serve as advisers to 21 members of the Fantastic 4-Hers club. The club is involved in a number of community services, such as beautification projects.

Terri said it's never a dull moment living with Gary.

"He's always coming up with new ideas," she said. "If he lived back in the pioneer days, we'd be in a covered wagon heading west."