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Three and a half hours north of Post is the small town of Spearman. With a population of 3,278, Spearman is located in Hansford County and is home to area pioneer JD Wilbanks, who will be celebrating his 100th birthday on Feb. 16.
Wilbanks, who is the same age as Spearman, can tell how they laid the bricks on the streets which are still there today. Through all his time in Spearman, it is safe to say that Wilbanks is fairly recognized by the community.
“He and Aunt Rubyjo are so well-known for their many contributions to the area,” said niece DJ Stubben, who shares the same initials as her mentor JD, only backwards.
Rubyjo, who passed in 2018, was Wilbanks’ high school sweetheart. On Jan. 3, 1942, when she was finally old enough to get a marriage license with him, they married one another and although they never had any children, they had plenty of nieces, nephews and pets to fill their home.
Wilbanks has had numerous jobs over the years. He has been a pilot, farmer, photographer, silversmith, inventor, car collector, steam engine operator, windmill construction worker at Buchanan Windmill Park and even a square dance caller.
“They travelled all over the southwest when he was square dance calling,” Stubben said.
He and Rubyjo even built and ran one of the first drive-in theaters in the Panhandle named The Wagon Wheel Drive-in. At the drive-in, Wilbanks was an engineer of a miniature train. He used the miniature train to drive kids around the theatre area prior to the movie. He also loaded and ran the films while Rubyjo ran the concession stand.
Wilbanks, who now resides at The Hansford Manor, an assisted living facility, has yet to slow down.
“He’s still driving at almost 100,” Stubben said.
In fact, Wilbanks is known to still meet for a cup of coffee at Gordon’s Drug.
As for his secret to longevity, it’s quite simple, learn something new every day.