"The devotion of these couples truly is heart-warming," said Mrs. Kasich, the event's host. "Their commitment to each other and their passion to help others is a model we can all take to heart."
"Ohio is a better place because of the efforts of these great people," said Bonnie Kantor-Burman, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. "Through the hours and hard work they volunteer, they embody all that makes this state exceptional."
These special volunteers range between 43 to 61 years married, 65 to 92 years of age and from 2 to 60 years of volunteering. The 2011 honorees are:
Karl and Carol Blass, of Lima, married 53 years, volunteer and serve in their community with grace and compassion. They are active in their church, serving in many offices and multiple committees.
Richard and Beatrice Buchsieb, of Cambridge, married 56 years, have been active volunteers in the community since 1960, working with the PTA, YMCA, 4H club and band boosters. They have been involved in every aspect of their church, and they have served on numerous boards and organizations.
Norman and Margaret Cohn, of Athens, have been married almost 55 years. They were leaders in the development of the Athens Village, a residential complex for older adults. They also have been active in Athens city government and in community organizations.
Jim and Betty Douglas, of Cincinnati, have been married 53 years. They volunteer with Clermont Senior Services and CASA for Clermont Kids, as well as serving as Girl Scout and Boy Scout leaders and with their church. Mrs. Douglas participated in medical missions in Mexico, while Mr. Douglas served 21 years in voluntary military service and as a volunteer fireman.
Victor and Becky French, of Greenville, have been married 46 years. They are active with HandsOn West Central Ohio, serving through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. They have recorded 5,035 hours since they began volunteering in 2008 - a service valued at nearly $105,000.
Ted (deceased) and Sue Foster, of Athens, married almost 55 years, worked continuously for the benefit of the city and county of Athens and the Southeast Ohio region. They helped launch the Athens Village, which enables senior citizens to remain in their own homes as they age. They worked together on a variety of projects, including the Athens County Plan and the Hocking River Commission.
Jack and Minnie Garabrandt, of New Philadelphia, married 54 years, are very much involved in the community. Both are active in their church and have been involved in church missions.
Dr. Robert and Emily Guion, of Bowling Green, married 63 years, have continued the family tradition of candy making, distributing at least 200 pounds of candy in the various communities where they live. They both work with the Meals on Wheels program and are active in their church.
Norm and Ginger Hamm, of Brunswick, have been married almost 58 years. They began volunteering at the Medina County Health Department 25 years ago through the Kiwanis of Brunswick. They are committed to promoting and protecting health and preventing disease.
Eugene and Lynn Hern, of Enon, married 45 years, joined the Clark County Medical Reserve Corps in October 2009 to help the community during the H1N1 outbreak. They have assisted with many of the health district activities, including providing vision and hearing screenings to school-aged children and assisting with seasonal flu clinics.
Donald and Carolyn Koehl, of Blue Ash, married 44 years, manage the operations of a large Meals on Wheels program at Sycamore Senior Center. They volunteer five days a week, substituting for any of the 20 volunteers needed to deliver Meals on Wheels and are active in their church.
Henry and Mary Lefeld, of Saint Henry, have been married 59 years. They assist with religious services at the Gardens at Saint Henry, a long-term care community and volunteer at Mercer Health, the community hospital.
John and Yvette Massey, of Columbus, have been married 61 years. They deliver Meals on Wheels on a regular basis, even on holidays. They also contribute their time and fundraising efforts to LifeCare Alliance.
John and Yvette Massey of Columbus, have been married 61 years. They deliver Meals on Wheels on a regular basis, even on holidays. They also contribute their time and fundraising efforts to LifeCare Alliance.
Vaughn and Joan Morral, of Harpster, married 61 years, work together on most of their volunteer projects at the local senior center and with their church. Mrs. Morral volunteers with the Wyandot County Board of Elections and works the polls. Mr. Morral served on the local hospital board of regents and was involved in procuring much needed medical equipment.
William and Elizabeth Muir, of Cortland, married 43 years, support the local volunteer fire department, church and school. They were instrumental in planning the senior center and remain active board members.
Harold and Margaret Pitts, of Girard, have been married 44 years. They volunteer with the nutrition program of the Trumbull County Office of Elderly Affairs. Mrs. Pitts also volunteers with an after-school program and the Mahoning County Veterans Clinic. Mr. Pitts is active with the Trumbull County Honor Guard, the Disabled Veterans Association, the Fraternal Order of Police Associates and the Korean War Veterans Honor Guard.
Paul and Sharon Reiser, of Portsmouth, have been married 59 years. They deliver Meals on Wheels and are active members of their church, where they volunteer on a weekly basis in community outreach activities such as the church food pantry.
James and Wilma Rockwell, of Portsmouth, have been married 56 years. They volunteered with local school organizations, such as PTA, Girl Scouts and Band Boosters, for more than 30 years and with their church for more than 40 years. Mr. Rockwell is active in the American Legion and the Masonic Lodge, and they are both active with Hill View Retirement Center.
Maurice and Marianne Schwartz, of South Russell, have been married almost 67 years. They have volunteered at Montefiore, a skilled nursing facility in Beachwood, for more than 20 years. They engage all residents, particularly Montefiore's Alzheimer and dementia residents, in the Sing-a-Long activity each Wednesday. They also have volunteered at the Chardon Senior Center and the Geauga Historical Society.
Robert and Margaret Tejral, of Tallmadge, have been married 59 years. They volunteer with countless organizations within their community, family, country and church. They both are active with Tallmadge Primetimers, Mobile Meals in Akron and Saint Thomas Hospital.
Walter and Carol Tylicki, of Toledo, married 44 years, have volunteered with the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc., RSVP and the United Way. They work with the Lucas County Citizen Corps Council to make the community better prepared for disasters of all kinds. When tornadoes struck northwest Ohio in 2010, the Tylickis helped to process 400 spontaneous volunteers in the first two days following the storms.
Robert and Faye Willeke, of Mt. Gilead, have been married 55 years. They have volunteered with the Meals on Wheels program for more than 15 years and are active in their church. Mr. Willeke has served as treasurer for the Mt. Gilead baseball program and for the Hospital Twig. Mrs. Willeke has worked with the Ohio Reads program and serves on the Mt. Gilead Library Board.
The Department of Aging solicited nominations from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30 for the Joined Hearts in Giving award from the general public. Couples were chosen from around the state.