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Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Helpful readers lead way to Mentor goldmine

This column appeared in The News-Herald on April 1, 2012. 

Writing a weekly essay such as this wouldn’t be nearly as much fun were it not for the warm, wonderful, thoughtful and sharing people who take the time to compose their thoughts on whatever topics arise as they grip the paper in their coffee-stained hands on Sunday morning.

Or stare at their computers, as the case may be, while they attempt to figure out my message and then fashion responses.

Let us go back in time. I recently covered the subject of no-lick postage stamps and then promised to follow up today with a further report on the status of an interview Frank Krupa wants me to do at the Wildwood Center on the subject of Mentor’s 50th anniversary as a city.

The status is, the interview will probably take place in April or May of 2013, which is more than a year away. But it is never too early to begin planning.

I mentioned a lot of people who were there at the beginning — the consolidation of tiny Mentor Village with the immense Mentor Township, creating overnight the largest city in Lake County.

Naturally, Frank and I would like to interview people who have first-hand knowledge of what they speak. But there aren’t too many of them around any longer. However, I did receive a number of emails and phone calls from readers who want to help, and who have suggested folks who might enjoy sitting around a round table for a gabfest.

Or a table of any configuration, for that matter. This is not Panmunjon, you know. (That is a historical reference to the end of the “police action” in Korea. If you were not there at the time, don’t bother looking it up. Let us proceed apace.)

One of the people I mentioned who was there at the beginning was Bill Boyd, but I didn’t know if he was still extant. I found out in a hurry.

Jill Nesnadny wrote: “I assure you he is alive and well and spends most of his time in Florida. But he still has his home in Thompson. I am friends with one of his daughters.”

Evelyn Kiffmeyer, a long-time Mentor Council member, also checked in: “I can help you out with locating Bill Boyd, and I can assure you’ll enjoy all the history he can provide about Mentor’s anniversary.”

Evelyn provided me with two phone numbers for Bill, one in Florida and the other his cellphone.
How’s that for being helpful?

“He should be on his way back from Florida soon, but I’m not sure just when. Let me know if you need any more help locating Bill.”

I will do it, Evelyn. But remember, the interview will be a year from now.

She also mentioned someone else who was very much a part of Mentor’s history at the time.

“A wonderful gentleman, Robert Brewer, wasn’t mentioned, and he should be included. He was very much a part of that history during the merger.

“I really enjoyed the history of Mentor during the time I was on council and was able to be very much a part of Mentor’s 200th anniversary. This is truly a story of historical pride.”

That 200th, of course, was a different anniversary. That was the founding of Mentor, not becoming a city.

Two emails from Councilman Ray Kirchner were succinct, as his messages always are. “George Maier is quite familiar with the merger and the players. Perhaps he could help you.” Ray was kind enough to include George’s phone number.

A second message said: “I spoke with Cliff Shandle today, and he said he has a wealth of Mentor info for you. He also suggested you contact Jim Pegararo.”

Debbie Weinkamer wrote: “ My suggestion for a Mentor history buff to be added to Frank Krupa’s panel is Joan Kapsch. She is a former executive director of the Lake County Historical Society and currently works at Lawnfield as a ranger with the National Park Service. She has a wealth of stories about Mentor.”

And finally, I head from Joe Dietrick: “I believe my grandfather, Raymond Brunner, who started Brunner Funeral Home (now Brunner Sanden Dietrick Funeral Home and Cremation Service) in 1949 would be a great person to contact. He was around and very involved with the city. I can get you in touch with him.”

That’s a great thought, Joe. I will never forget Ray’s comment when he was honored by the Chamber of Commerce as a distinguished citizen: “I will be the last one ever to let you down.”

I also heard Ray tell people on occasion: “Why don’t you drop over sometime?”

Never underestimate the power of a good punch line.


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