John McMahon becomes emotional when talking about the honour of being named 2020 citizen of the year by the Delhi and District Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said this week on a video call from Norview Lodge in Simcoe, where he now lives. “There’s gotta be better people than me.”
McMahon lived in the same Delhi home for 82 years while he farmed tobacco and sold real estate in the off-season.
“I loved my farm,” he said. “It’s just fun to farm.”
He said he never noticed the long days in his 40 years of farming because he enjoyed being out in the fields.
His neighbours knew him as Mr. Fix-It. As a self-taught small engine mechanic, he often found himself repairing different pieces of equipment.
McMahon also spent time with the Royal Canadian Legion Delhi branch, where he served as sergeant-at-arms for years. He led marches and co-organized the Remembrance Day flyovers in both Delhi and Tillsonburg.
He estimated he took part in a couple hundred parades. He would give rides in his Jeep to the legion members unable to walk the length of parades.
McMahon also was a member of the Delhi La Salette Knights of Columbus, serving as a grand knight for two years, trustee for three years and a leader for council members. He led honour guards for church and community celebrations.
“One thing my dad said to me recently is that regardless of if you’ve messed up in your younger years, you can still turn your life around,” said daughter Catherine McMahon, who joined her father for the video call. “I’m just so proud of him, he’s an amazing man, a great father, and he’s done a lot for other people throughout his life.”
In a news release, the Delhi chamber noted that, although McMahon is no longer physically able to contribute to organizations, his “spirit of kindness and giving has not diminished.
“John has unselfishly given of himself for the good of others throughout the Delhi area for years,”
McMahon offered encouragement to others who want to give back to the community.
“If you feel like you want to help somebody, join the Legion or the Knights.”