By STACY MILLBERG - For the Star Beacon
Larry and Carol Loveland are spending their retirement years doing anything they can to serve their community and church and their service has not gone unnoticed.
The Lovelands are this year’s recipients of the Pymatuning Area Chamber of Commerce Brenda Merrill Award. They were honored Wednesday at the chamber’s 20th Annual Brenda Merrill/Chuck Thobaben Awards Luncheon.
The Brenda Merrill Award was established by the chamber following Merrill’s death in 1993 because of her deep love for Andover and its residents. The award recognizes the community service efforts of area residents.
The Lovelands are both natives of Andover. Both left the area to pursue their degrees, and returned to the area. Larry received his teaching degree from Youngstown State University and Carol received her nursing degree from Trumbull. The couple has three children and eight grandchildren.
Following his graduation from college, Larry was affected by the draft and sent to Vietnam.
“Our oldest was just four months old at the time,” Carol said. “But we survived that.”
“It was a lifetime ago,” Larry said. “We have both been very blessed in our lives.”
Carol worked a variety of nursing jobs over the years but settled in at Ashtabula County regional Home Health, where she ultimately retired after 21 years.
After her retirement, she was looking for something to fill her time, when she discovered the Parish Nursing Program. She took a class and became certified and now serves as the parish nurse for the First United Methodist Church of Andover.
As parish nurse, Carol organizes a variety of programs throughout the year to help promote a healthy lifestyle. Some of the programs include a fitness program, a health fair in conjunction with University Hospitals, a meal program and hosting a number of guest speakers, she said.
“It’s just a way of giving back to the community and our church,” she said.
Carol said she read an article not too long ago in a religious journal that listed 11 health tips to longevity. The number one tip was “Don’t retire.” Although she is technically retired, she still fills her time helping others.
“I feel if you have the talent and can do it, it is important to give back,” she said.
Carol also serves as the church’s organist/pianist. She formerly served on the Ashtabula County Children’s Services board, the Lake to River Girl Scout Council board as well as the United Way.
Larry retired from Delphi Packard Electrical but hasn’t stopped working. He has held a variety of part-time jobs since his retirement to keep busy. He helps out with the church’s food pantry among other things. Larry formerly served on the Andover Foundation board and also was the charter representative for the local Boy Scout troop for a number of years.
“We try to help others if and when there is a need, however we can,” he said.
Also being honored at this year’s awards luncheon was the First United Methodist Church of Andover. The church was the recipient of the Chuck Thobeban Award.
The Chuck Thobaben Award was established by the chamber to recognize local organizations that work tirelessly toward the improvement of the community, as Thobaben himself did.
“It’s neat the church received an award to,” Carol said. “We have an extended family here at the church.”
Receiving the Brenda Merrill Award was also special to the Lovelands because they both knew Merrill.
“She was a substitute teacher where I went to school,” Carol said. “She always had control of the classroom and always had the best stories.”
Merrill was a member of the original committee which established the Andover Public Library in 1935, which is also where Carol held her first job.
“I got paid 50 cents an hour, which I though was big money,” she recalled.
Both Larry and Carol have been proud to call Andover home over the years and honored to receive the Brenda Merrill Award.
“Andover was a good place to raise our children,” Larry said. “They received a good education here and have all ventured out and made us proud.”
Carol said it was hard to receive the award because there are so many people who do just as much and more than she and Larry do to give back.
“Everybody gives and everybody does there best,” she said. “This has been a very humbling experience.”