By STACY MILLBERG - firstname.lastname@example.org
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
When Dean Luce was named one of the 2013 Senior Citizens of the Year, not even State Rep. John Patterson could stand in the way of his busy schedule.
Apparently Patterson was taking a little too long while presenting the winners with their awards and Luce had places to be.
“Excuse me sir, but I have a doctor’s appointment,” Luce announced, interrupting Patterson
After the room quieted from the laughter, Patterson said, “Dean, you are still teaching. I’m going to use that some day.”
Luce, as well as Lloyd and Judy Richards claimed the titles of 2013 Senior Citizen of the Year at the annual awards luncheon Friday at Martini’s. The 15th annual event is sponsored by the Senior Care Network of Ashtabula County.
The award is a way to recognize individuals who have given their time and talents to programs or projects that have a positive impact in the Ashtabula County community. Each year, in late summer, nominations are accepted. Candidates must be residents of Ashtabula County, be age 60 or older and their current activities should exemplify a positive image of aging in the areas of volunteerism, community service, unrecognized acts of service and diversity of service.
Luce, 87, is a retired school teacher, having taught at both Ashtabula High School and the Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School. He is very active in the veterans community and served as Adjutant for the American Legion Post 743 in North Kingsville.
Luce started Echo Taps six years ago, which takes place every May at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens. He is involved with Greenlawn Memorial Gardens Healing Fields and has been on the committee for the past four years.
Luce was also instrumental in having part of Route 20 named after First Lt. Michael Runyan, who was killed in action in Iraq. Luce is a World War II U.S. Army veteran. He was nominated by Anna Allshouse.
Lloyd and Judy Richards, 68 and 67 respectively, make up one very powerful force in Ashtabula County, according to Brian McNaughton, who nominated them.
The couple visit many seniors in the local nursing homes and the elderly in the community. For several years they have taken leadership roles in organizing a popular community program that delivers Christmas to more than 30 disadvantaged families every year, providing food, clothing, toys, gifts and household items. They also help families at Easter.
Both are long-time members of the Saybrook United Methodist Church and are very active, volunteering on many committees and organizing fundraisers among many other things.
McNaughton wrote in his nomination, “As you can see, this ‘dynamic duo’ has to be nominated together as one. Together, they are an indispensable asset to the Ashtabula area and are examples of leadership, loyalty, duty and honor.”
Patterson said many of the 15 nominees had one common denominator: Faith.
“You’ve given so much to all of us,” he said. “You guys are so special and we are so blessed to have you here.”
Lloyd Richards said it was unbelievable to be named Senior Citizen of the Year with his wife.
“It is a great, great honor,” he said.