Where have the ‘stars’ gone?
They’re still shining brightly as newspapers prepare for 20th-annual Community Stars celebration
STEUBENVILLE — In 1998, 10 area residents were part of something new launched by the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.
It was called Community Stars, an event to applaud area residents who didn’t seek the limelight but who deserved recognition for the many ways they quietly made a difference in the lives of others with their seemingly ordinary demonstrations of kindness and caring.
It was a simple premise. Readers would submit nominations, a newspaper panel would pick 10 winners and a dinner to which family and friends and the public were welcome to attend would be the setting for an evening of praise and thank-you’s.
This year marks the 20th-annual installment of the event with nominations being accepted through Wednesday — see the accompanying story on this page for details — and cause for curiosity.
What has become of some of those stars, the total approaching the 200 mark?
Enter Tinnie Reed of Wintersville.
She was in that first group of honorees that included Darold Kirpby Sutphin of Dillonvale; Jo Ann Birney of Richmond; Virginia Brown of Follansbee; Mary Joy Dillon of Smithfield; Millie Porreca of Steubenville; Chris VanDine; John Wherry of Toronto; Bill DeNoon of Bergholz; and Melissa McCrea.
The location of the dinners has rotated through the years with the initial event held at Lenora’s, now home to Scaffidi’s Restaurant and Tavern in Hollywood City Center, Steubenville.
From that event, Reed still has her Community Star plaque; a keepsake program and booklet that featured stories on the honorees; and the card that accompanied the corsage bought for her by Joan Wood, then the executive director of the Urban Mission Ministries where Reed served as a volunteer for 17 years.
“I thought it was an honor, but I felt like I didn’t deserve it,” Tinnie said at her home where she resides with her husband of 53 years, Bill.
Reed was nominated by staff members at the mission for dedication and commitment to helping others, whether that meant doing office work, unloading trucks, cleaning cauliflowers “for hours” or assisting with holiday distributions.
She said she especially enjoyed opportunities to be “a facilitator,” finding a way to meet a need.
Her volunteering grew from one day a week to as many as four and ultimately led to the participation of her mother, Alice Arango, and aunt, Elfrieda Jones.
“It was a good time — you felt very helpful,” she said of her years of volunteering at the mission.
After that, she continued on a mission of helpfulness — only this time in the role of a caregiver for loved ones, including her mother.
That also would include son Bill, who would spend his final six days at the family home before his death from cancer in April 2013. He was 44.
“He was an incredible guy,” she said in sharing stories to offer an outsider and insider’s view of the third of her five children. She recalled how her son planned a birthday party for his father two months before his passing and presented special cards to family members. Hers read, “I am the man I am because of the mom you are.”
“It was a blessed time for all of us to be able to talk and love each other,” she said of that family time in those final days of his life that included the Reeds’ other children — Tina, Teresa, Cathy and Joe.
“God got us through and gave us peace,” she said.
Through it all, faith played a critical role, faith that never waned.
“God is so good. He gives you exactly what you need,” said Reed, who is active in the newly launched Hope Community Church that meets in the Fort Steuben Mall.
Reed has 13 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren — a seventh is due in two months.
Of the Community Stars dinner, Reed said she attended it with her husband and remembers sitting at the same table as Sheriff Fred Abdalla, a fellow classmate of Catholic Central High School’s Class of 1962.
Nancy “Suzie” Kincaid Rousey of Bloomingdale was a Community Star in 2005.
With her in that group were Angela Kayafas of Wintersville; Alice Arango of Wintersville; Nick Drazich of Steubenville; Sean Norman of Brilliant; Edith Noonan of Steubenville; Sis Brannon of New Alexandria; Dot Czibor of Adena; Tim Hines of New Cumberland; and Sheila Long of Weirton.
“I was nominated by Eleanor Kindsvatter,” said Rousey, who was singled out for her involvement in her church — Starkdale Presbyterian Church in Steubenville. There, she said, she’s been a deacon, served on the worship committee and been available to do “whatever else they need.”
But she also was acknowledged for her 30 some years as an obstetrics nurse, most of them at the former Ohio Valley Hospital. She graduated from its School of Nursing and entered the profession in 1959, seeing many changes before her retirement in 1997. After that she worked briefly for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Grant Program.
Her role in helping to bring new life into the world — aiding mothers-to-be and reassuring their families — is one Rousey cherished, and her refrigerator to this day is a pictorial testimony to the generations of babies she helped birth.
“It was the most wonderful job in the world to help women through one of the toughest times in their lives,” said Rousey, who resides with her husband, Roland.
Her reaction to being selected as a Community Star?
“I could not believe it,” she said. “I’m still best friends with Eleanor,” Rousey quipped.
“I was very humbled that I would even be nominated,” she said, admitting that accepting the award was the scary part as she’s not a fan of speaking in front of an audience, but she persevered.
“I tried to breathe so I wouldn’t faint,” she recalled.
Life revolves around the church and family, which includes time in West Palm Beach, Fla., to see her sister, Barbara Kincaid Baugh, and nephew, who pastors a nondenominational church there called the Journey Church. “Last Easter he had 3,000 people in his church,” she said. “I am so proud of him.”
Rousey also enjoys staying in touch with friends, including a Friday night group of about 16 people who get together for dinner each week, most of them people who have known each other since grade school and graduated from Wintersville High School.
Part of the Ohio Valley Hospital/Trinity School of Nursing Alumni Association, Rousey is looking forward to the upcoming second reunion dinner celebration, this one set for Saturday at the Prime Time Senior Center on Lovers Lane.
Jane Antonucci was honored in 2009 for her volunteer efforts with Charity Hospice, “a fairly young hospice in our area at that time,” according to the Richmond resident.
“Cathy Cich was and is the CEO as well as the founder. I enjoyed ‘my jobs’ as an office volunteer, a patient care volunteer and making blankets for patients while working alongside Cathy and the volunteer director, Julie Coughlin, and all the hospice team,” Antonucci explained.
“My favorite job was making blankets for our patients. That idea started because a friend of mine, Brenda Powley, made and gifted a blanket for my own mom while under hospice care. The comfort and warmth of that farm animal print blanket always put a smile on my mom’s face. Seeing how much the blanket was enjoyed, I decided to make those blankets for Charity Hospice patients,” she said.
“After a vacation, I returned to the office and that’s when Cathy told me that she had nominated me for a Community Star with the Herald-Star,” Antonucci reminisced. “Surprised at first, I relaxed a little when I realized it was only a nomination. Then she stated the newspaper selected me as a Community Star. Thinking this is too much attention for me I became nervous. In the next several days, after the Stars were featured in the Herald-Star, I started receiving cards of congratulations and messages of praise. My nervousness changed into ‘Well, this isn’t so bad, I can live with this!'” she recalled.
Also honored that year were Mary Barksdale of Steubenville; Hayden Christoff of Bloomingdale; Becky Foster of Toronto; James Hill of Weirton; Connie Kafton of Follansbee; Violet Lancaster of Colliers; Dave Miller of Toronto; Pat Taylor of Rayland; and Tony Violi of Steubenville.
“The evening of the awards was very enjoyable. I really did feel like a ‘star.’ Many of my family members attended, which made me feel special and thankful. Also, many of Charity Hospice’s staff members attended for support. The year 2009 is remembered as a special time in my life. I would like to say thank you, again, to Cathy Cich, Julie Coughlin and the staff of Charity Hospice, my family and the Herald-Star,” Antonucci said.
“After retiring from Charity Hospice, to take it easy a while, I joined the Italian-American Cultural Club with my husband, Richard. The secretary at the time, Caroline Klonowski, asked me to step into her job for her second year. At the end of that first year, I accepted the president position. I enjoy being involved and meeting new people. Now, after four years, it’s time for me to step down from the presidency. Maybe now, I’ll take it easy,” she said.
Antonucci said her husband has retired from his business, Celebrations. “I have hopes of traveling, but if those plans change, I’ll be looking for my next nonpaying job,” she said.
Her advice to the next class of honorees?
“Congratulations and enjoy the spotlight.”
“Wow — I can’t believe it’s been 15 years” is the initial reaction Joe Neeper has to the newspaper’s celebration of its 20th year for a Community Stars recognition dinner and the fact that he was among the honorees five years into the annual event.
The Toronto resident was among the Class of 2002 honorees along with Jane Dever of Toronto; Mary Jane Wittmer of Mingo Junction; Jill Ater of Brilliant; Kathryn Pfannenschmit of Steubenville; Henry DeMasis of Weirton; Lisa Henderson of Wellsburg; Lowell Shields of Brilliant; Mary Burkett Leslie of Steubenville; and Elsie Gron of Rayland.
“A lot has happened since then,” Neeper noted.
“I was nominated by Susan and Jim Hilz, neighbors and good friends. Jim has passed away, and Susan lives in Columbus, but we do keep in touch,” said Neeper, who resides with his wife, Sherry.
“I stayed active in the Toronto Beautification Committee for a while when Mayor Bob Wilson was living here,” said Neeper, who worked for 35 years at AEP Cardinal Plant. He took an early retirement in 2011 and started his own construction and custom cabinet business. “I am trying to do less construction work and concentrate on more woodworking projects,” he said.
In 2015 Neeper and his wife decided to build a new home in Toronto, another new development in his life.
He jokes that he continues to attend “the University of Futility,” majoring in swimming, biking and running. “That’s where you train harder every year but get slower and slower.”
Neeper identifies his four grandsons, all under the age of 3, as “the real highlights of my life” with a fifth grandson on the way “very soon.”
“They keep Sherry and me busy and happy,” Neeper said.
Of the Community Stars dinner and recognition event, he recalled it to be “a wonderful time, yet humbling and somewhat embarrassing. It was nice having close friends and family there to celebrate the occasion.”
Volunteering has been a big part of Sue Call’s life, motivation for friends to nominate the East Springfield woman for Community Star honors.
Call was among those recognized at the 2011 dinner, along with Bob and Sandy Baker of Bergholz; Larry Byers of Steubenville; Susan Dalrymple of Weirton; Shawn Durbin of Wellsburg; Mary Kertoy of Smithfield; Patrick McLaughlin of Steubenville; Anthony Mougianis of Steubenville; Monica Rogers of Steubenville; and Destanee Smith of Wellsburg.
A year after the honors, Call retired from Trinity West Medical Center, having been a hospital employee for 30 years, the bulk of them as a radiology transcriptionist but finishing out as a patient advocate in the emergency room.
It was Call’s habit to give angel lapel pins to patients or those she crossed paths with in a gesture to offer cheer and hope.
Call continues to be an active member and volunteer at Christ United Methodist Church in East Springfield pastored by the Rev. Bob Welch. She has served as the organist there for 10 years.
Not far from the church is the East Springfield Community Center that got its start anew in 2007. Call serves as the treasurer and from the get-go has been active, for example, in its monthly fundraiser dinners held the first Thursday of the month from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. She orders food, picks it up, helps prepare and serve it and pitches in at cleanup time as well.
“I enjoy being around the people and watching them have a good time and seeing them get together and enjoy the communication and the camaraderie,” she said.
Call remembered being contacted about her selection as a Community Star.
“I didn’t believe it — I thought someone was playing a joke,” she said.
“It was a nice dinner and a very nice honor to be there,” Call said.
This past Memorial Day, Call served as grand marshal of East Springfield’s parade, an honor she appreciated.
Call’s brother, Gary Tennant of East Springfield, was named a Community Star in 2015. His death Oct. 5, 2016, leaves a void.
“I’ll never stop missing him,” Call said.
Things are pretty status quo for Rick Pastre of Smithfield since 2006 when he was among the Community Star honorees in 2006.
That group also included Hattie Adams of Follansbee; Emily Hosler of Follansbee; Marie Crawley of Steubenville; Ronald Ferrell of Toronto; Michael McIntyre of Steubenville; Cindy Murray of Wintersville; Ken Perkins of Mingo Junction; Sophie Schoolcraft of Mingo Junction; and Marilyn Tarr of Toronto.
Pastre, who was nominated by Esther McCoy, former Herald-Star employee, continues two business pursuits — 43 years now at Pastre Auto Service in Smithfield and 45 years playing the accordion at a variety of events.
He was honored for his kindness in offering his service station for something special — as a gathering place for a small group of men to jumpstart their day with coffee and camaraderie.
“It’s been a tradition for probably 30 years,” Pastre said of the gathering that unfolds six days a week.
“It’s all local guys, some within walking distance,” he added of the group that hangs out from about 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.
“Then they’re dismissed,” he said, a hint of humor in his voice.
Pastre recalled feeling not unlike other Community Star honorees —“humbled about their nominations.”
And while he enjoyed attending the dinner in 2006, he has been on hand for other Community Stars dinners through the years.
“I’ve come to quite a few afterward,” he said, noting he usually knows an honoree and attends in a show of support.
(Kiaski can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)