“I can do that!”
That attitude, her husband Gail says, is why Patty Hunter is involved in so many charitable activities in Loudonville today.
Gail Hunter and Patty Heller are both area natives and graduates of the Loudonville High School Class of 1963. Each went their own way after high school, but they met again in the 1990s and were married in 1993.
Much of the time since they lived in Ocala, Florida, but they returned to Loudonville after Gail retired in 2008.
From that time on, Patty has thrust herself headlong into activities, mostly involving her church, the Loudonville United Methodist Church, and the Loudonville Church Women, for whom she serves as treasurer today as well as a regular volunteer every Tuesday at the Loudonville Church Womenâ€™s major activity, The Store in the Loudonville Church of the Nazarene.
“We moved back here in 2008, and I immediately, at the urging of President Gladys Mumper, became involved in the United Methodist Women,” she said. “Gladys asked me to take over as president, and my answer was â€˜sure, I can do that.â€™ I was president for five years, until, unhappily due to dwindling membership, the UMW was forced to disband.
“However, at the same time I was appointed as representative from our church to serve on the United Church Women,” Hunter continued. “Susie Stake was president then, and Susie Piskur is president now, and I am serving as treasurer. We have between 20-25 active members, and we meet quarterly.
“Just this year we decided to step up efforts to secure more donations for back-to-school supplies for area children,” she said, “doing so with a Pack the Police Car effort to get donations held last Saturday at Family Dollar. Weâ€™ll make those donations available at our annual back-to-school event at The Store, in the Nazarene Church, on Tuesday, July 30.”
Reason for the stepped-up effort to get donations of school supplies was born of necessity.
“In the past, we, meaning the United Church Women, distributed school supplies to needy children that were provided by Associated Charities in Ashland, with that organization getting the supplies through their Stuff the Bus effort. However, donations really slacked off, with us getting only four boxes of supplies last year. American Legion Post 257 bailed us out, finding and giving us two truckloads of supplies.”
What drives Patty Hunter to do so much volunteer work?
“For one thing, I really enjoy working with other women, either at The Store, or quilting or preparing funeral dinners at our church,” she said.
But thereâ€™s a family connection as well.
Her big brother, Gene Heller, was one of the founders of Helping Hands in Loudonville, nearly 40 years ago. And her husband, Gail, was the founder of Bikes for Kids, a group that provides bicycles for every child in the Mohican area that wants one, 11 years ago.
“Those two motivated me to do what I am doing,” she said. “I love to help people.”
Patty is the daughter of Orrie and Mabel Heller, and grew up on Wally Road south of Loudonville. After graduating from Loudonville High, she went to Wooster Beauty College and worked in two different beauty shops in Loudonville for over 25 years. Then she worked as an office assistant at Kettering Hospital in Loudonville before moving to Wooster where she became a PBX operator and accounts receivable person at Wooster Community Hospital. Later, she was a PBX operator and registration tech at Joel Pomerene Hospital in Millersburg.
Then, in Florida, she became manager of the Bellview Hospice Thrift Store, “a job I really loved, and which led to my involvement here at The Store.”
Also, in Florida she volunteered as secretary for the Community of Gratitude Emergency Food Center, which served the communities of Weirsdale, East Lake Weir, and Ocklawaha. “While there the president, bookkeeper and I worked together to publish a cookbook as a fund raiser for the organization. The cookbook was called “Feeding the Flock.”
Patty has two grown children, Angie (Scott) Nave of Loudonville and Rick (Linda) Turske of Ashland, and she and Gail collectively have seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Until this year, the Hunters spent three months each winter in Florida with their camper, but decided to remain in Ohio this coming winter.
In addition to her volunteer work, Hunter says “I enjoy my flowers, and I continue to lead a â€˜Stampinâ€™ Up group at my home once a month, making cards for nursing home residents and soldiers out of stamps. I started â€˜Stampinâ€™ in Florida.”
She and Gail also enjoy the company of their two Jack Russell Terriers, Lily and Kiki.