If you grew up in Cascade, Idaho, you know the Youngs.
Gary and Ann Young have owned Cascade Auto for 50 years. The third-generation family business sits right on Main Street, on state Highway 55, halfway to about anywhere in Idaho.
Statewide travelers recognize the Youngs by their business, but locals know them for their generosity and commitment to the Cascade community.
Ann Young has spent more than 30 years on the Cascade School Board, becoming one of the longest serving trustees in Idaho history. She rarely missed a district event, including games, programs and graduations.
Gary and Ann have long been active in the Cascade Chamber of Commerce, serving as officers and participating in many community events.
And Gary is the guy who comes to the rescue of those in need of auto repair, a fixed flat or a tow.
“They are outstanding community members,” said retired Cascade superintendent Gene Novotny, who led the district for 33 years. Ann was on the board most of that time.
“Gary will lend you a car if you need one or come and get you if you break down, while Ann is one of the most committed people I know when it comes to kids and school.”
The Youngs have lived in Cascade since 1966. They raised four daughters, and all four attended school in Cascade.
“I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” said Ann, who grew up in Boise and graduated from Borah High School. “I love this community and the people who I share it with and thus my desire to ‘do my share’ when an opportunity opened up to join the school board.”
Ann started on the board in the late 1970s and resigned last month to care for her ailing husband. Both are still active in the family business and community, except Gary is currently recovering from pancreatitis and could be hospitalized for another three months.
Ann spent 30-plus years on the board, she said, because she wanted to continue to play a part in the great things that were going on in the district.
“I’ve always been so proud of this school and the administration, staff, patrons and students,” she said. “There is a history of longevity with board trustees, administration and teachers in Cascade and I believe that is part of the reason that they have been successful.”
Novotny said Ann was serious about her role, especially as board chair. She ran meetings efficiently. Board members didn’t always agree, but they remained respectful.
One of the most controversial conversations he remembers was when he asked the board to fund computers in the early 1980s, well before computers became popular.
“There was a moment when we had to spend some money and she was very supportive of us getting those computers,” Novotny said. “Because of her, we were one of the first to have them in schools. We were ahead of our time.”
When Ann reflects back, she remembers good, bad and frustrating times.
The worst time was the year of the widespread lice infection. “That was a tense meeting with a large crowd, but the pest passed after a few weeks and we can all laugh about it now.”
The best times were when kids came to the meetings. “We have always loved to have students of all ages present before the board. Some performed and some reported on activities. Each age was a delight.”
The frustrating times were centered on funding. “We (Idahoans) are going to have to step up and pay our teachers more fairly, especially the newer ones. It must be difficult to support a family on what new teachers are making. I’m afraid we are going to see a serious teacher shortage in the future if we don’t find a solution.”
Ann said she wants to encourages others, especially parents with children in school, to volunteer on their local board.
“It’s so enlightening to learn how schools work and what the regulations are that they deal with,” she said. “It will make a better patron of each of us and we can in turn educate others about schools and school issues.”