DALLAS — Gerard Geise doesn’t enjoy public speaking.
Prior to the Back Mountain Memorial Library Auction Kick-off Dinner June 6, he worried about addressing the crowd.
“It’s something I’ve always struggled with,” he said.
But that hasn’t stopped him from taking on the role as chairman of the 70th annual Back Mountain Memorial Library Auction, to be held July 7-10 on the library grounds.
“I am honored that I was even asked,” he said.
Geise is also a busy guy as vice president of Dallas Centre Hardware on Main Street, set to celebrate its 35th anniversary this month.
“It’s been a lot of longer nights,” Geise said of juggling his duties as auction chairman and businessman.
It’s his first time volunteering in an official capacity with the auction, but he and his family have been fans of the annual summer event for decades. His father-in-law, Jim Eason, is a past auction chairman, and Geise’s son Garrett helped Dallas artist Sue Hand with her annual painting of the auction in 2012.
“We were fortunate enough to purchase the painting with another couple and donate it back to the library,” said Geise.
The 70th annual event is all about reflecting on past auctions with a theme of “Still Making Memories.”
“We’re inviting people to bring old pictures (they) might have,” said Geise. “We have photos dating back to the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. I want to get art easels (to display the old photos).”
The four-day auction kicks off July 7 with Family Night, during which the committee plans to celebrate the milestone with a commemorative cake and ice cream.
Ladies’ night will be celebrated July 8, and Saturday, July 9 will be gentlemen’s night, during which items geared toward women and men, respectively, will be on the auction block.
A tribute to Back Mountain veterans, complete with an American Legion flag ceremony, will highlight Sunday’s activities.
Geise said the event would not be possible without the support of volunteers.
“There are 24 auction committees,” he said. “We are truly blessed with the sense of community we have in the Back Mountain. It’s hard to put into words. You couldn’t pay people to do these jobs — there’s so much work involved.”
As much as this year’s auction reflects on the past, Geise is trying to keep his mind on the future, as well. He said the auction committees are working on amping up their presence on social media in order to get younger generations involved in the event.
Local Boy Scouts have already gotten a head start in the tradition of volunteering with the auction.
“The Boy Scouts are an immense help with the auction,” said Geise. “They are running the Toy Tent, where they’ll sell toys and have a bike raffle. The Boy Scouts also help with parking, traffic control, site cleanup and setup. They are an invaluable resource, and I want to tip my hat to them.”
Geise also said he’s getting his three sons — Garrett, 20; Elijah, 17; and Judah, 14 — involved in the event by having them help with donation deliveries.
“With the hopes of making it to another 70 years, we need to spark some kind of interest in the 25 to 45 year olds,” he said.
Geise said the auction is the library’s biggest fundraiser and, with cuts to state library funding, becomes more important every year.
“The library completes the community,” he said. “It’s great to see that, no matter what time of day you go there, there’s always someone there, learning.”
The library is still seeking donations for the various tents at the auction. For more information, call 570-675-1182.
Reach Sarah Hite Hando at 570-704-3945.