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The Ohio Department of Aging

Ohio Department of Aging Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame

The Ohio Department of Aging celebrates outstanding older Ohioans for their achievements and contributions to others; for the roles they play in their communities, state and nation; and for what they do to promote productive and enjoyable lives. Since 1977, more than 450 individuals have been inducted into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame for contributions toward the benefit of humankind after age 60, or for a continuation of efforts begun before that age.

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2017 Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame
Induction Ceremony

Thursday, May 18, 2017
Ohio Statehouse Atrium - Columbus, Ohio

Please direct all media inquiries to (614) 728-0253.

 

 

2017 Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame Inductees

Paul and Vera Allen
Paul and Vera Allen
Xenia

Dr. Lucille Garber Ford
Dr. Lucille Garber Ford
Ashland

Dr. Ardath A. Franck
Dr. Ardath A. Franck
Akron

Dorothy Madal Hetzel
Dorothy Madal Hetzel
Brecksville

Sam Jones
Samuel Joseph Jones
Glouster

Betsy Ross Koller
Betsy Ross Koller
Malta

Melvyn J. Stauffer, Esq.
Melvyn J. Stauffer, Esq.
Sandusky

 

 

Paul R. and Vera M. Allen, Xenia

Paul R. and Vera M. Allen welcome everybody they meet with open arms and huge hearts. For 30 years, they were foster parents to more than 100 children, adopting seven of them along the way. Combined with one child of their own, their legacy is now spread across the United States, sharing the love and hope that the Allens gave them at a time when no one else could.

Mr. and Mrs. Allen met in Louisiana during September 1952. They were married a few weeks later. They dreamed of a family and soon were blessed with a daughter. They would only have the one biological child, but found a way to expand their family beyond their imaginings. At a time when many in their community just wanted to talk about what to do for disadvantaged children, the Allens gave them a place to call home and people to call family.

Beginning in 1972, the Allens opened their home and hearts to foster children in Green, Clark and Montgomery counties. The children came from different situations and environments, but were all affected by growing economic and social problems in the community, including poverty and drug addiction. They fostered young males, teenage mothers, drug addicted newborns, children with disabilities, among others.

They received calls at all hours of the day from caseworkers seeking a temporary safe place for a child. The Allens did what was necessary to comfort the children in often distressing events. They persevered through many long and challenging nights with children who just watched their parents be arrested or babies who were going through withdrawal from opioid addictions. They fed them, clothed them, took them to church and gave them a sense of stability and a loving home.

Over 30 years, they would take in more than 100 children, some for a night, others for months or even years. They adopted seven of the children they fostered. In 2001, at the ages of 66 and 67, the Allens welcomed their last foster child into their home.

Over the years, as their household grew, Mr. and Mrs. Allen became more involved in their community. In 1983, they opened a corner store in Xenia's East End, where they passed out school supplies to economically disadvantaged children. In 1985, Mrs. Allen founded and coordinated the community picnic in Xenia’s Shawnee Park for the local children. For 20 years, she formed partnerships with local media and sought donations from local businesses and volunteers from her church to help support this tradition with 400 annual attendees.

Mrs. Allen is the lead usher at the First Church of God. She collects money during services and greets newcomers. She has served as the national vice president of the Ushers for the First Church of God and has served for more than 20 years as the president of the ushers within the First Church of God for Ohio. She continues to train and mentor multiple generations of members of the church through ushering.

Mr. Allen is a Korean War Veteran, having served in the US Army as a soldier in the 101st Airborne division. He worked in maintenance and security throughout his career, and served as former treasurer for the Greene County chapter of the NAACP. He also delivers Meals on Wheels five days a week for Xenia Adult Recreation and Services Center.

The Allens feel they have been truly blessed by being able to serve. They received a Special Recognition of Ohio’s Adoption Families for National Adoption Week in 1989, and were named Ohio Foster Parents of the Year in 1990. Mrs. Allen was named Mother of the Year in 1994 and 1995. Mayor Marsha Bayless of Xenia declared the day of Mr. and Mrs. Allen’s 60th wedding anniversary as “Paul and Vera Allen Day” to honor the couple for their service to the community.

Mr. and Mrs. Allen have always been modest people who were simply willing to share what they had with those in need. They have been pivotal parts of many lives – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and loving those who have never felt it.

Of their children and grandchildren spread all over the country, Mrs. Allen said, “They call and write us, and they are the joy in our hearts. They help us as much by being who they are.”

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Dr. Lucille Garber Ford, Ashland

Dr. Lucille Garber Ford is a trailblazer and a role model for all women, with an accomplished career as an educator, businesswoman, college administrator and community leader.

Dr. Ford earned her associate's degree from Stephens College in Missouri, and then went onto both her bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University. Her first position was as a visiting professor at the University of Alabama. She also met her husband Larry at Northwestern University. After they married, she taught economics and business administration at Allegheny College and the University of Alabama. In 1967 she returned to Ashland, Ohio, to help manage her family’s printing business. She successfully managed the business for several years after her father died, and sold it only when the time was right.

In the 1960s, Dr. Ford was the first and only woman to serve on the Ohio Edison Company Board of Directors and was the first woman appointed to serve on a bank board for National City Bank. These appointments set the stage for other women to make their marks in business and finance.

When she was in her 40s, Dr. Ford earned her doctorate in economics from Case Western Reserve University. This degree was the foundation of an impressive career at Ashland University. During her tenure, she instructed more than 3,000 economics and business students, while also contributing to the administration of the school. She designed the Gill Center for Business and Economic Education and was named the center’s director in 1974.

Dr. Ford made history in 1978 when she became the running mate on the gubernatorial campaign for Ohio Speaker of the House of Representatives Charles Kurfess. She was the first woman to run for Lt. Governor in Ohio. Though their campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, the experience taught her to never say “no” to an opportunity to make a difference.

“Having a vision means looking over the hill,” said Dr. Ford. “I say to myself when something goes wrong, ‘what can I do to make it better next time?’ Understanding what I can do next time is the vision my parents both had – to recognize the opportunity that can be a privilege of living life.”

In 1979, Dr. Ford was named dean of the School of Business Administration, Economics and Radio/TV. She developed several new majors and educational programs for adult students. In 1986, she became vice president of academic affairs, the nursing program, the writing center, the honors program and many other academic and administrative activities. She became provost in 1990, administering both graduate and undergraduate programs, continuing education and special programs, and is currently serving as provost emeritus, professor emeritus and board trustee emeritus. Her 15 years as active board of trustees member of the Ashland University make 45 years total active service she’s given the university.

Upon retiring from Ashland in 1995, Dr. Ford turned her knowledge, experience and passion toward civic endeavors. For 18 years, she devoted her leadership skills to the Ashland County Community Foundation, which enables people to make gifts to a fund that will enhance the Ashland County community. She has served on five major public company boards, held countless civic and community leadership positions, and sat on numerous local, state and national boards.

Dr. Ford also earned her master's degree in pastoral counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary. She is an elder in the First Presbyterian Church in Ashland, Ohio, and served as director of Stephen Ministers and supply pastor for the Synod. She also served on the National Presbyterian Foundation Board of Trustees.

Dr. Ford was inducted into the 2001 Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame, and was the Grand Marshal of the Ashland Bicentennial Parade in 2015.

As a high school senior, she took flying lessons to receive a private flying license. She is an avid boater and has been on Lake Erie since she was 9 years old. She enjoys swimming. She frequently visits her summer home in Huron, Ohio, and takes a boat out on the lake whenever she can. She has also traveled all the continents and wants to continue expanding her horizons.

“I should learn how to be retired,” she said, thinking about her future.

She feels success comes from being productive and contributing throughout one’s lifetime; and to love and to be loved.

“It gives you the substance to be thinking of others, and it gives you a sense of identity,” she said.

Dr. Ford was married for 60 years and has two daughters, each of whom has earned doctorate degrees in their fields. She also has two granddaughters, who have themselves earned master’s degrees. She is very grateful of the legacy she has formed with her family, her students and her contributions to the community.

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Dr. Ardath A. Franck, Akron

To her many of her former students, Dr. Ardath A. Franck is a beacon of hope. Throughout her 71-year career as a speech therapist, she was one of the first to use unconventional approaches to help students find success in reading. Today, she contributes to her community as a business owner and serves as a role model for all ages as she remains physically active and vital.

Dr. Franck was born in Wehrum, PA, a now-vanished coal mining town. Her family moved to Ohio when she was one year old. Her father died when she was sixteen, and she helped her mother raise her two youngest brothers. Despite adversity, her mother saw to it that she got a college education. She received her bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in 1946, her master’s degree from Kent State University in 1947, and her doctorate in speech therapy from Case Western Reserve University in 1956.

While in college, she noticed that many of the students who had success in speech therapy were behind in their reading skills when they returned to the classroom. She studied existing remedial programs and developed her own experimental program to help students catch up and eventually excel at reading. She tested her program with the Akron City Schools, explaining the techniques to administrators and sharing the results with their psychology program. With her approach proven, Dr. Franck established the Akron Speech and Reading Center.

Dr. Franck’s program uses a different approach to learning. Students learn to read by watching filmstrips of children’s stories and answering comprehension questions. Her students improved reading by two grade levels in just six months on average.

Over the years, Dr. Franck has written numerous articles for the Wadsworth News Banner in which she offers advice to parents about educational problems and situations. She published five years’ worth of these articles in a book titled “Your Child Learns” in 1972.

Today, the Akron Speech and Reading Center is known as the Akron Education Campus and Dr. Franck still serves as director. At age 92, she continues to provide individual instruction for preparation for GED classes, speed reading and remedial reading. She also tutors nurses and law students preparing for their board exams. Former students often visit and tell her how their learning experience changed their lives.

“I had an interview with a student who had difficulty in many schools during his career,” she said, recalling one of her favorite – and most recent - student success stories. “He is scheduled to graduate this year and we are doing an extensive home-school program to meet the graduation requirements. When his mother was leaving after the interview, she was fighting back tears, saying, ’You've given us hope.’"

Dr. Franck credits her mother for giving her the talents to offer others that hope. “My mother had a hard life as a widow with four children. She met everything with fortitude and faith in God,” she said. “She was optimistic. This is the greatest gift she gave me. The glass is always half full or more.”

As Dr. Franck has aged, so have the people who benefit from her tireless quest for knowledge. Five years ago, she conducted research at local nursing care facilities and held meetings with local senior citizens about senior activities. Her work led to the creation of the Bath Citizens for Seniors group, which provides an array of activities for local seniors based on the needs and interests of the community.

Dr. Franck was married to her husband Fred for 62 years until his passing in 2005. She raised two children and has five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, with another on the way. She says, “I was so blessed to be married to someone who was so supportive.”

When her daughter expressed an interest in baton twirling, Dr. Franck approached it with her signature drive to learn and excel. She not only supported her daughter’s pursuit, but also became a leader in the sport, mentoring and encouraging many young women. Today, Dr. Franck is the president of Twirling Unlimited, the second largest baton twirling organization in the country. She and her daughter organize baton twirling competitions in several states and Canada. The Ohio chapter of the National Baton Twirling Association and the TwirlMania International Championships have honored Dr. Franck for her contributions.

Dr. Franck believes the secret to a long, successful life is to stay grounded. “Start every day grateful for the time you have been given,” she said. “Recognize your limitations, but use all the resources you have to be happy, pleasant to everyone you meet and always joyful.”

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Dorothy Madal Hetzel, Brecksville

Seeing a larger-than-life Ginger Rogers dancing on the silver screen inspired a young Dorothy Madal Hetzel to make dancing her life’s passion. For seven decades, she has taught and shared her love of dance in her home, her studio, dance halls, community theaters and over the airwaves.

Ms. Hetzel began her dance career at age 18 and was first recognized for her gift by being voted “Best Dancer” in her high school yearbook. After graduation, she took a job in downtown Cleveland to pay for dance lessons at the Morganstern Dance Studio. Her studies soon began to pay her back when she began performing and entertaining patients at the Brecksville Veteran’s Hospital a few years later.

In 1962, as a young mother raising five children, she opened a dance studio in her home, teaching tap and ballet to neighborhood children. After that, she taught dance for five years in a Garfield Heights studio on Saturdays.

When Ms. Hetzel’s husband passed away in 1993, a neighbor asked her to join the Garfield Heights Little Theater to keep busy. Her first show as a dancer was “Me and My Girl,” and she appeared in a dozen other shows, including “My Fair Lady,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Guys and Dolls.” Her involvement with the Little Theater would go beyond performing, as she was asked to join the theater board as corresponding secretary. She served as the board’s vice president for 20 years.

In 1994, Ms. Hetzel became the choreographer and dance instructor at the Garfield Youth Theater. She taught the child performers through two shows each season. Over the course of 18 years, she choreographed 22 shows, including “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Annie,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Alice in Wonderland.” She also produced 11 shows, including “Diary of Anne Frank,” “Harvey” and “The King and I.”

In 1995 Ms. Hetzel was crowned “Ms. Ohio Senior America.” At the Nationals Pageant in Biloxi, Mississippi, she won a special talent award for her dance. At age 67, she began taking ballroom dancing lessons. She entered many competitions and has won several first-place trophies, as well as three plaques for Outstanding Student in Dance.

In 2001, when she was choreographing “Annie,” she learned she had breast cancer. Continuing to choreograph shows and staying busy helped her get through the treatments. In 2015, her cancer returned while she was choreographing and producing the Brecksville Summer Theatre production, “Out of the Book,” a musical written by a local high school senior. As before, she continued to teach and perform through her treatments. The children gave her the strength and determination to keep going during the difficult times.

Ms. Hetzel has made many television, radio and guest appearances over the years, but has never forgotten her community. She has entertained residents in Cleveland-area nursing homes, was named Grand Marshall in Mentor, Ohio, and was given the key to the city by the mayor of her hometown of Maple Heights. She also received a commendation from the Ohio House of Representatives for her accomplished career and her work as a role model for so many young people. She also volunteers as a reading tutor for the Smiles program at her church, where she loves to see the children progress in their reading.

It makes her happy that she helped people develop their talent. “There are so many people that remember me as their dance instructor and the shows they have been in that I taught them,” she recalls.

While she counts the many young people she has instructed as her children, Ms. Hetzel was blessed with a large family of her own. She raised three daughters and two sons, and has 10 grandchildren and one great granddaughter, who bring her much joy and happiness.

As for what keeps her going, Ms. Hetzel said, “If you have a talent, you can always keep it in your life. No matter how old you are, it will make you happy.”

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Samuel Joseph Jones, Glouster

For the better part of six decades, Samuel Joseph Jones has been training young people to be champions in and out of the ring. As a three-time National Kickboxing Champion, he has competed in matches around the world, including a nationally televised fight at Madison Square Garden. Since retiring from professional boxing, he has used his boxing experience to shape the minds and bodies of young athletes.

Mr. Jones’ father opened the Glouster Boxing Club in 1936. Today, the club stands as Ohio’s oldest gym. The younger Mr. Jones took over operations in 1960 while he was still competing professionally. He retired from competition in the late 1970s and began coaching children at the gym.

“We work to build champions in and out of the ring. We teach youth respect, to be good citizens and the importance of hard work in the sport and in the classroom,” Mr. Jones said. “Boxing teaches you to never give up. The club strengthens community support for our children by teaching them discipline through sporting.”

Mr. Jones is happy to see students from challenging backgrounds engage in productive lives and go on to help in their communities. Over the years, he has received notes, letters and emails from former students.

“I’d like to say ‘thanks’ for making a difference in my life,” one student, a high school junior, wrote. “Before I was boxing, I used to get in trouble at school most of the time, but I don’t anymore.”

In his community, Mr. Jones has been a champion in every sense of the word. With the help of family and community members, he created “Boxing for Books,” an annual fundraiser for the Trimble Local Schools which is considered among the most economically disadvantaged in the state. The event provides desperately needed supplies. Since 2002, he and the Trimble Local Textbook and Supplies Foundation have raised more than $600,000 from fundraisers, grants and donations to purchase textbooks, iPads and supplies for the Trimble School System. State education officials credit the up-to-date textbooks and technology for contributing to steady improvements in state proficiency tests scores for students in the region.

Mr. Jones has his share of accolades and awards. The Glouster Kiwanis Club in 1978 honored him for his “Dedicated Services to the Youth of our Community.” In 1993 the Glouster Lions Club chose him as the Outstanding Trimble Township Citizen of the year. That same year, he was inducted into the Bando Kickboxing Hall of Fame as a three-time U.S. heavyweight Bando kickboxing champion. In 2002, Governor Bob Wise of West Virginia awarded Mr. Jones the Colombo-McConnell Memorial Award “in recognition for his outstanding achievements with youth.” In 2003, he was selected to the Trimble Local Alumni “Wall of Fame” as an outstanding alumnus. Mr. Jones was named to the Trimble High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. He was honored as the “Hometown Hero” in 2011 by the American Red Cross for his community service. The Hock-Hocking Boy Scouts of the Athens County district named him Community Leadership Honoree.

His life’s work has also been recognized in the Statehouse. In 2004, State Representative Jimmy Stewart honored Mr. Jones on the floor of the Ohio State House of Representatives, and Governor Bob Taft recognized him for his community service, exemplary lifestyle and outstanding leadership abilities.

Mr. Jones has been married to his high-school sweetheart Ellen for 59 years, and they are members of the Bishopville Church of Christ. They raised three children, including one son they lost to MS and leukemia. They have five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He enjoys playing golf, watching sporting events, playing guitar, singing and visiting friends in nursing homes. He especially relishes the opportunity to teach others the physical and personal benefits of exercise and sport.

“I believe in helping others and try to do that daily,” he said. “I’d like to continue doing what I’ve done for the past 76 years, my lifelong goal of helping young people in our community.”

Remembering his chosen purpose and remaining engaged with his community keeps Mr. Jones positive. His message for everyone of every age is, “If you get knocked down in life, just get right back up and get in the game.”

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Betsy Ross Koller, Malta

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Betsy Ross Koller’s artwork would fill libraries. Her 18th-century Swiss style of painting is inspired by the Appalachian countryside of her youth and the places around the world where she has lived. She uses her talents to benefit various charity foundations and inspires others in the process.

Mrs. Koller began her college studies at Ohio University. During her junior year, she married her husband Paul and moved to Illinois, where he was employed. Shortly thereafter they transferred to Geneva, Switzerland, then Germany and Austria and back again to Geneva. She found each day exciting, with the challenges of new languages and customs. It was during this age of travel and adventure that she discovered her true talent.

In Switzerland, Mrs. Koller attended art school to study a popular form of painting called naïve art. She held one-woman exhibits in Geneva, Gstaad, Morges and Vevey in Switzerland, and entered painting contests back in the states. Her depictions of enchanting Alpine scenery mixed with mid-western Ohio rural settings and people are expressions of her life. Those who view her work fall in love with the positive and uplifting personality it reflects.

Mrs. Koller donates her artwork to help charities raise funds. When she was still an art student, UNICEF selected one of her winter scenes for their greeting card collection to raise funds to better children’s lives worldwide. Over four decades, her work has generated more than $4 million for the charity.

She has also had commercial success with her art. Nestlé executives loved her whimsical, alpine scenery so much, they chose her paintings for Cailler, their premiere holiday chocolate line. Mrs. Koller has worked with them on several projects since.

Her most cherished project currently is with her alma mater, Ohio University. Mrs. Koller is creating four seasonal paintings of the campus to support the Appalachian Scholars program, which raises funds for young adults in the region to pursue a college education that they might not otherwise afford. The university sells reproductions, greeting cards and other products bearing her images. The first two paintings in the series, “Homecoming at Ohio University” and “Winter at Ohio University,” have been well received, and she currently is working on the spring and summer pieces.

The Ohio University Alumni Organization honored Mrs. Koller with the Honorary Alumna of the Year award in 2014 for her contribution to the Appalachian Scholars Program, which is now supporting five students with full scholarships. She has initiated similar programs at the University of Virginia at Wise and the Culver Academy in Indiana.

Mrs. Koller grew up in southeastern Ohio, where her father was the local veterinarian and her biggest influence. “I never met a more intelligent, kind and yet powerful person in my life,” she recalls. “As a child, I was never permitted to say ‘I can’t do it.’ So, I just did it!”

She would travel with her father to provide veterinary services to area farms and ranches. These experiences exposed her to scenery that is prevalent in her artwork, but it also gave her a deep reverence for the people in her community. “(Dad) had great respect for the tireless workers who made their livelihood from working the land.”

As a child, she received a blind horse as a gift on her eighth birthday. She named the horse “Black Beauty,” and it became the inspiration for a trilogy of children’s books she wrote, titled “Dr. Ross and Black Beauty.”

Mrs. Koller is a member of the Colonial Dames, Daughter of the American Revolution and Dame of the War of 1812. She bears the name of her noble ancestor, Betsy Ross. She and her husband Paul reside in Florida. They have one son, Ross, who Mrs. Koller says is the spitting image of her father. They also have three grandchildren.

A recent fire in their garage and her studio, in which she lost all her finished pieces, works in progress and awards, has her reflecting on memories and the future.

“Unless you have lived through a fire as devastating as this is, you can’t imagine the feeling of the loss. It is almost like losing a relative or friend. A catastrophe like this robs you of not just material things… it robs you of the memories that are associated with the many lost things. With the encouragement of our family and friends, we intend to rebuild and to carry on – enthusiastically, albeit a bit slower.”

“I don’t think of myself as aging or aged,” Mrs. Koller added. “Quite simply, I just never allow myself to think that I am old. I attempt to keep up with news from around the world, maintain friendships that circle the globe, travel to different destinations, read some good books, go to physical workouts regularly and try to think positively.”

Mrs. Koller plans to continue combining her painting and traveling in Europe, visiting their farm in Malta, Ohio, and Amish country to get ideas for future paintings.

Mrs. Koller has lived according to her father’s motto: “To receive, one has to give.” Her artwork and her continuing philanthropy are her gifts to the world.

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Melvyn J. Stauffer, Esq., Sandusky

Melvyn J. Stauffer, Esq., improved his Sandusky, Ohio, community through his unique blend of strength, courage, wisdom and leadership. Law may be his profession, but his passion is helping the residents of his community be healthier, happier and prepared for their futures. His work has supported intellectual pursuits and brought vital health care to underserved populations in north central Ohio.

Mr. Stauffer was born in Brookville, Ohio. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1951. He immediately began practicing law in Sandusky with the law firm of Flynn, Py and Kruse and has practiced there his entire career. Over the past 25 years, his practice has been limited to working with private foundations, nonprofit organizations and on issues surrounding hospital governance.

In 1965, he led a group of interested citizens to create a Bowling Green State University (BGSU) branch campus in the Firelands region of north central Ohio. As chair of the Committee for Educational Development, he led a fund-raising campaign that doubled its original goal. In 2011, he was awarded the Firelands Community Service Award for nearly 50 years of leadership and contributions to the many successes of the BGSU Firelands Campus.

Beginning in 1985, Mr. Stauffer was the architect of a strategic merger that combined Providence Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital and Sandusky Memorial Hospital into the Firelands Regional Medical Center, which is located centrally in Sandusky and offers practitioners of differing disciplines the ability to serve a multi county area of north central Ohio. Mr. Stauffer’s talent to coordinate each of these former secular and religious institutions to become one medical center was a triumph and has led to local advances in medical technology and higher quality of care. He served as a member of the board of directors for 44 years and is now director emeritus.

Mr. Stauffer also continues to serve as a member of the board of directors of the Foundation for Firelands, which funds facilities expansion and new equipment purchases, as well as supports low or no cost community health and wellness outreach programs for underserved populations served by Firelands Regional Medical Center.

At the same time as he was working on the hospital mergers, Mr. Stauffer also worked with Sam and Rose Stein to provide $1 million from the Sam S. and Rose Stein Charitable Trusts to assist with the creation of Stein Hospice Service, Inc., headquartered in Sandusky, which today provides both outpatient and inpatient hospice care in a multi-county area.

In 1995, Mr. Stauffer helped establish what is now known as the Erie County Community Foundation. As president of the Dorn Foundation, a local private foundation, he presented a challenge grant to the foundation and business community, offering $1 million from the Dorn Foundation if corporations, individuals and private foundations in Erie County could collectively contribute another $750,000. The challenge grant was a success and the Community Foundation was launched with $1.8 million in assets. Currently, Mr. Stauffer is director emeritus of the foundation, which has assets of more than $20 million and has distributed grants totaling more than $15 million to the Erie County community.

Under Mr. Stauffer’s leadership, the Dorn Foundation has contributed millions of dollars to Sandusky and Erie County, including a recent $1 million grant to Sandusky Schools to assist with preschool education and to launch a new gifted academy and a $300,000 grant to the City of Sandusky to assist with its neighborhood revitalization program.

Over his long and successful career of contributing to his community, Mr. Stauffer has also been involved in his church, the YMCA, the local music and arts scene and has been active in the Sandusky Jaycees, Sandusky Rotary and the Sandusky Lions Club.

“I always keep my focus on improving the community and the lives of others,” he said. “I continue to work with the local foundations on their many projects.”

Mr. Stauffer has been married to his wife Mary for 64 years. They have five children, 14 grandchildren and one great granddaughter. Mr. Stauffer also has three siblings whom he talks to every week and visits once a year. For his 90th birthday last October, Mr. Stauffer planned a 4-day family holiday to Hilton Head, South Carolina.

Two of his biggest influences include his mother and former Sandusky resident Sam Stein. He recalls how his mother returned to college late in life and earned a bachelor’s degree from Miami University at age 60. What’s more, she didn’t let a broken leg stop her from walking across the graduation stage.

Of his mentor, Mr. Stein, Mr. Stauffer said, “Sam was a self-made man, who completed just nine years of schooling, and had a highly successful business in the food industry. He gave away millions of dollars to hospice organizations in Ohio and California.”

Today, Mr. Stauffer stands as a shining example of the philanthropic spirit for others in his community.

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