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Rick and Florence Mader

Helping neighbors is a reflex for this couple

AMSTERDAM — Although helping neighbors is a reflex for Rick and Florence Mader of Amsterdam, such acts of kindness don’t go unappreciated.

John and Yvonne Nosal live nearby on township Highway 267 — Red Dog Road — and are among the beneficiaries of that philosophy of Mader living.

“Rick and Florence help many people in many ways,” begins their letter of nomination. “If you need to dig a ditch, till a garden or move some dirt, Rick and his tractor will be there to help. If something needs to be welded, built or repaired, Rick will do it. He is retired from the telephone company and is well qualified in the electronics field, so if a computer, television or phone aren’t working, Rick will come and fix it. In the winter, he plows his neighbors’ driveways without asking for payment. If you need something moved, carried or lifted, Rick will be there.”

Florence “drives” home a spirit of lending a helping hand as well, offering, for example, transportation when needed.

“If you have an appointment and can’t drive, Florence will drive you in her car or yours,” the Nosal letter notes. “Three times she has taken me to the hospital at midnight and returned the next day to bring me home. When she bakes cookies or zucchini bread, she shares with her neighbors. If you need help with something, just call, and she will be there … Every day she is always looking out for her neighbors.”

The Maders dismiss such actions as insignificant.

“Our generation was raised that way — you help your neighbors and your friends,” Rick said. “We’re just doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” added Florence. “You’re supposed to be kind to your neighbors, you know, help out when you can.”

The Maders also share the bounty of their garden with close neighbors– everything from corn, tomatoes and peppers to beans, cucumbers and onions — “the usual stuff,” she said.

The couple have been married for 47 years and have lived on township Highway 267 since 1973. “The address has changed, but we’ve never left,” Rick observes with a chuckle.

The two graduated from Springfield High School, Class of 1969. She’s from Amsterdam; he grew up in Annapolis.

“I hated school with a passion,” said Rick, who retired in 2001 from Verizon with 30 years as a technician in the central officer, working on phone equipment. He continues to work now as an equipment installer for Butler America. “I did not want to be in school at all, then what did I do — I spent two more years in tech school and I graduated from that, and I wanted to start a TV repair business,” he explained. But getting a loan to start a small business didn’t come to pass. “That’s when I went looking and got hired at the telephone company, and I started climbing poles and installing telephones and dealing with the public,” he said

Golf and radio-controlled model airplanes, drones and helicopters are among his interests. He also had 39 years in the National Guard.

Florence worked as an executive secretary in the Edison school system, retiring in 2007.

“I was at Stanton most of the time, then I was at the bus garage, so I was in transportation and curriculum,” she explained. “I enjoyed the challenge organizing all the field trips, the athletic events, we had to schedule buses for everything, substitute drivers. I had a radio in the house, I could communicate with drivers when they were out all the time. At midnight you could hear someone calling, maybe they’d break down and need help. It was a challenge,” she said of her job.

Doing cross-stitch and babysitting grandchildren are leisure-time pursuits that bring her joy, and she likes to bake cookies.

The Maders have two children — son Chuck lives in Knoxville with his wife, Erin, and their children, Garen and Grayson; daughter Amy Babb lives in Bolivar, Ohio, with her husband, Matt, and their daughter Lana with a son due in February.

As for being selected as part of the Class of 2020 Community Stars, the two shun such a spotlight.

“I don’t think we deserve it — we just do what we’re supposed to do,” Florence said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

The couples’ designated charity is Valley Hospice.

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