NEWS

Elvis sighted in Aledo

John Pulliam/Aledo Times Record
The return of "Elvis."

The unique friendship between (Nearly) Elvis and an Aledo architect resulted in a special concert July 30 at the Aledo Central Park Band Shell.

Walt Finch designed the Band Shell, which is 10 years old this year.

"I never charged the city a dime," Finch said before the recent show.

The story of how Elvis impersonator Ron Semler and Finch became friends is special, with a lot of meaning, especially for Finch. He and his wife, Judy, met Semler when Judy was fighting cancer.

"When Judy was getting chemo at Iowa City, she liked to go to the Goodwill store in Coralville," Finch recalled.

It was on one of those visits to the store that he and his wife walked through the door and saw Semler, in full Elvis costume.

"I said 'Elvis is in the building'," Finch said, adding that not only was Judy thrilled, other customers were excited.

Sadly, Judy lost her battle June 5, 2014. But, the story doesn't end there. One of Finch's daughters took him shopping at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Davenport.

"I walked in and there was (Semler's wife) Charlotte and he," Finch said. "It was a God thing."

The two men agreed it was a friendship that shouldn't be allowed to wither.

Indeed, it has continued.

"Walt called me and said 'we've got to get this guy to the Band Shell," Rusty Ruggles told the crowd at the concert. Ruggles, the director of the band at Mercer County High School is in charge of the shows at the Band Shell.

Walt and Ron talked before the concert, trading stories and a few jokes. Semler and his wife stayed at the Blue Spruce Lodge. "Elvis" was so impressed, he joked he and Charlotte should buy the bed-and-breakfast, which is for sale. Semler also had nice things to say about his first impression of Aledo.

As for Walt, he said his house is lonely now, "because she's gone." But, he reads her 10 devotionals each day and sings her a religious song. He said he asks God each day to permit the essence of Judy to visit. He asked a reporter if he had goosebumps hearing the story, which said reporter did. Walt said he also felt it.

"That means she's here," he said, heading off to watch his friend perform.