By NANCY LIKENS
Wadsworth Center for Older Adults
The Wadsworth Older Adult Foundation has announced the inductees of the 2008 Senior Advocate Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame awards celebrate the significant accomplishments made by older adults in our community. Â
The 2008 inductees will be honored at a special ceremony and gala reception Oct. 4 at the Galaxy Restaurant. For tickets, reservations and additional information, call the Center for Older Adults at 330-335-1513.
Robert and Phyllis Leatherman
Robert and Phyllis Leatherman, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award, have an impressive track record of finding needs and filling them.
One way or another, each entity under the umbrella of their company, American Hospitality Group Inc., formerly American Health Care Centers Inc., focuses on hospitality. The whole family is involved in the business: founders Robert and Phyllis Leatherman; their four children: Robert Jr. and wife Carol, Karen Friedt and husband Jeff, Robin Wenger and husband Neil, and Sean. They have 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, some who also work with American Hospitality Group Inc.
The Leathermans have a diverse background, beginning in the restaurant business. From Mannerâ€™s Big Boy restaurants to Michaelâ€™s Restaurant in downtown Barberton, they spent 17 years in that field.
In 1972, a physician friend introduced them to the nursing home industry, which led to a 25-year span operating more than 20 nursing homes in Ohio. That success led to the formation of home health care (Heart to Heart Home Health Care), assisted living and senior independent living businesses (Liberty Residence I and II).
The needs of the local community brought restaurant and banquet facilities (The Galaxy), hotel accommodations (Holiday Inn Express and the Ramada) and the car dealership (Premier Pontiac and GMC Truck).
The most vibrant example of their hospitality is The Galaxy Restaurant and Banquet Center, which opened in January 2000. The Galaxy was a dream come true for the Leathermans, helping them return to the restaurant business once again. From the beginning, they have focused their efforts on superior products for their clients and customers. Their continued growth and success illustrate the receptiveness to their business approach: commitment to quality services and dedication to meeting customersâ€™ needs.
Faith has been foremost in the life experiences of Robert and Phyllis Leatherman. Along with other charities they have supported, they sponsored a Chair in New Testament Studies at Trinity Lutheran Seminary and serve on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet. They enjoy travel and spending time at their Marco Island home when theyâ€™re not at their cattle ranch in Burbank.Â
Wadsworth Lively Seniors
The Wadsworth Lively Seniors organization has a rich history and tradition in our community. The founding members were true visionaries who were instrumental in the creation of the present-day Wadsworth Center for Older Adults.
Wadsworth Lively Seniors formed in the spring of 1971 and began meeting at the Mennonite Church on Trease Road. This group of active, senior adults from the community and surrounding areas commissioned the leaders of Wadsworth to establish a permanent facility that would serve as the community focal point for seniors. The city responded, and in the fall of 1972 provided space in the Wadsworth Civic Center, now known as the Wadsworth Center for Older Adults.
The Lively Seniors played an integral role in shaping and developing the programs, services and activities of the center. They assisted with implementing the travel program, senior transportation program, nutrition program, volunteer program and much more.
Throughout the years the group has retained a solid presence in the community and serves as a true friend of the Wadsworth Center for Older Adults.Â
Joseph (Joe) Rodgers was born and raised in Akron and graduated from Central Hower High School in 1960. He served in the U.S. Army and retired from First Energy after 35 years of service. Joe was employed by Loweâ€™s as a second career and retired after 10 years of service. Joe retains a vital role at Loweâ€™s by volunteering for the Loweâ€™s Kids Clinics.
Rodgers has been the commander of the Wadsworth American Legion for the past three years and has spearheaded the organizationâ€™s growth in membership and community involvement. Joe has been a supporter of the Wadsworth Center for Older Adults and has assisted in facilitating grants from the American Legion to support the centerâ€™s intergenerational computer education program.
His most recent and outstanding accomplishment was coordinating the Vietnam Veterans Wall that Heals memorial.
Rodgerâ€™s efforts brought a traveling replica of the monument to the Wadsworth community so residents, veterans, family members and friends could honor the sacrifices made by those who served. The Wall that Heals brought more than 30,000 people to Wadsworth in May this year.
Rodgers is the 5th District sergeant-at-arms and is past division commander for the American Legion. He also serves as president of Downtown Wadsworthâ€™s executive board and is a member of the Downtown Wadsworth events committee.
Rodgers has made his home in Wadsworth for the past 22 years and resides here with his wife, Kay. They have five children and nine grandchildren.Â
Don Simpson has been a resident of Medina County for 25 years. He graduated from Wayne State College and retired from a successful career at Prentice Hall Publishing. Simpson also is a veteran of the Korean War and served in the US Air Force for four years.
Upon retiring, Simpson became active at the Medina County Senior Center where he observed the many diverse needs of the older adult patrons. Simpson listened to the stories of seniors who had worked hard, lived productive lives, but fell upon hard times in their later years. As a man of action, Simpson decided to devote his time to helping his fellow Medina County seniors. Out of that desire to serve, the HANDS Foundation was born.
Under Simpsonâ€™s direction and service, the HANDS Foundation was created in 1994 and has thrived and flourished since. Simpson created the Helping HANDS newspaper, which provides information on every aspect of senior life in Medina County. This bi-monthly publication is now direct-mailed to more than 17,000 households in Medina County.
Simpson also created the Senior Wishes program after talking to seniors who could no longer afford the basic essentials of daily life, let alone the simple pleasures that most of us take for granted. The Senior Wishes program will grant more than $60,000 in wishes to older adults in Medina County in 2008.
Another dream realized by Simpson was the creation of the Senior Farmers Market program. Done in partnership with many grant-funding organizations, including the Wadsworth Older Adult Foundation, the market provides vouchers to seniors to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farm markets.
Simpson resides in Medina with his wife of 56 years, Betty. They have four children and five grandchildren.