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Buchtel’s Class of ’73 is Special: Refurbished Auto is Donated to Nurse

August 6, 2008

By Jewell Cardwell, The Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio

Aug. 6–It’s time for high school and college reunions.

One of the bigger ones taking place this weekend is Akron’s Buchtel High School class of ’73, which boasts nearly 400 students.

Remarkably, one of the major reasons those who graduated 35 years ago give for returning is Barbara Redd Lewis, their guidance counselor.

“She is like a second mother to many of us,” reminisces Phyllis Ford of Akron, who still calls Lewis on a regular basis.

“She has always tried to keep track of our class . . . “

Lewis, who worked as a counselor at Buchtel from 1969 to 1991, acknowledged that there was “something truly special about the class of ’73. . . . I liked all of my kids. But this class was just exceptional. “

Lewis said she often runs into members of the class at grocery stores and the like.

Some she even hears from every week. “Greg Blackmon (a chemist) calls whenever there’s a bad storm and asks ‘Are you OK? Is your electricity out?” she recounts.

David Barnes, general manager at Akron’s Mud Run Golf Course, also keeps in close touch.

Lewis, who has two sons and three grandchildren of her own, said members of the Buchtel class of ’73 feel like her own. “I don’t know what it was. Just good chemistry, I guess,” was how Lewis summed up the special and ongoing bond.

Because of that, she’s never missed attending any of their reunions.

“It’s been so gratifying to see them grow and be successful,” she continued.

“Of course, we had some situations with some of the kids. But it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

“I think in those days, the kids had more respect for themselves and authority. And you had cooperation from their parents. That made a big difference. . . .

“Anyway, this was an all-around exceptional group of kids. Some have become doctors, lawyers, bank vice presidents, authors. . . . “

Lewis began her education career as an English teacher at Akron’s Ellet High School for six years. Then she spent time at Thornton Junior High School as a counselor before moving on to Buchtel.

She retired in 1991 but was lured back to part-time work for a year.

Then it was off to Hoban High School where she spent 14 years before retiring again in 2006.

Who knows what’s next for the woman Buchtel’s class of ’73 affectionally calls their second mom.

Pulling together

God bless the Coventry Soccer Youth Organization, which is reaching out in a mighty way to help one of its own.

“The CSYO has found out that one of our coaches has stage four colon cancer that has spread to her liver and stomach, She has no health insurance,” soccer parent Jenna Raines said of the 37-year-old mother of a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old.

“The family has requested that we maintain their privacy as much as possible.

“CSYO wants to help them out, so we are having a benefit event on Saturday, Aug. 9, at Logan Field (on North Turkeyfoot Road) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,” Raines continued. “We are having a bake sale, rummage sale and children’s activities. We are trying to get the word out to as many people as we can. One hundred percent of the proceeds from this event will go to this family. Jerry VanDevere (of VanDevere Auto on Arlington Road) will give matching funds up to $3,000.”

A Coventry Cares Family Benefit account is open at TeleCommunity Credit Union, 2500 N. Turkeyfoot Road, Akron, Ohio 44319, to help the family.

Fixed-up wheels

Paula Apley feels incredibly blessed. And with good reason.

First and foremost that her brain tumor was successfully removed April 25.

The nurse and single mother of two — a 14-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter — was on the receiving end last weekend of yet another, albeit different, blessing.

Akron Baptist Temple, where the 44-year-old Mogadore woman has been a member for more than 30 years and works in the Kids Zone ministry, presented her with a car Saturday at its big car show.

John “Jack” Cunningham — a member of the church’s Cruise-Saders-ABT car club and a retired captain with the Akron Police Department — said the annual event drew more than 300 cars.

The highlight, according to Cunningham, was the presentation to Apley, who works two jobs at Akron Children’s Hospital and Tallmadge Christian Academy to make ends meet. She was selected for the outreach by the pastor, Ed Holland.

According to Cunningham, the car — a 1997 Mercury Sable station wagon — was totally rebuilt from the ground up by several of the car club’s members whom he described “as some of the best in the business.”

The car was primarily rebuilt with all new parts by Keith Wright of Barberton Auto Craft with about 25 or so other local businesses chipping in to help. “The undercarriage is all new. It also has new struts and brakes,” Cunningham said. It’s better than the day it rolled off the assembly line.”

“It’s dark green metallic. Absolutely beautiful and looks likes a show car now,” Cunningham said.

Helping Ronald

Collective praise for St. John Lutheran Church, 500 E. Wilbeth Road, Akron, for its special community outreach on behalf of Akron’s Ronald McDonald House — a home away from home for out-of-the-area families with children who are seriously or critically ill and patients at Akron Children’s Hospital.

The church is sponsoring an old-fashioned “Ice Cream Social” from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7, with all proceeds going to the House.

The event also will serve as a “Back to School” fun fair for adults and children of all ages with a clown and games for entertainment.

Getting there

Major bouquets to Brunswick, Wadsworth Expanded Transportations Options volunteers who transport residents to out-of-county medical appointments.

The ETO service is a coalition program involving Faith in Action Medina County Caregivers, financially supported by United Way of Medina County, and maintained by Medina County Public Transit and in partnership with Medina County Transit Consortium.

“It is so hard for our seniors and the medically fragile to keep these out-of-county appointments,” said Faith in Action director Doris Kilbane. “There’s no other service available. Their friends often can’t drive or have passed away and their families are not close or are unable to repeatedly take off work. . . . You can help them get the medical care they need by offering your time.”

For more information, please call 330-952-0342. Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or jcardwell@thebeaconjournal.com.

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Copyright (c) 2008, The Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio

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