quot;Ordinaryquot; people are the true heroes of hometown life

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 19, 2000

I was born and raised here in Butler County. But if Dr. Philip Speir hadn't been on his toes for my first day, I might not have been capable of sitting here and writing this storyin fact, I might not have made it to my second day.

I arrived with the umbilical cord wrapped snugly around my neck, cutting off the flow of oxygen to my brain. I was unable to even whimper, much less give the customary wail of the newborn. My mother, his office nurse, pleaded to know what was wrong. Dr. Philip wouldn't say a word, though, as he concentrated his capable hands on freeing me from my dilemma. Mission accomplished, he finally rumbled, "Everything's fine."

I have worked with handicapped children; I know what brain damage can do to you. So I give thanks to God and that wonderful doctor's skilled hands, because I'm all too aware that "there, but for the grace of God, go I". Dr. Philip Speir was my first hometown hero.

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I've been blessed with the friendship and guidance of many fine local folks since that day (almost) four decades ago. I was away for a number of years as an Air Force spouse, and I loved the opportunity to discover new faces, new places, new experiences. Those years certainly enriched my life.

Still, as Dorothy said, "There's no place like home." Your hometown is very important; it's where you form your first friendships, begin your education, start building a foundation of hopes and dreams, your "castles in the air" for the future. You receive the encouragement and support of those unsung heroes and heroines who try to direct you to, and keep you on the right path in life. Dr. Speir was the first hero I claimed, but certainly not the last.

I received a good education here, all but two of the first twelve years spent in the Butler County school system. Wonderful teachers like Billie Faulk, Estelle Champion, Glenda Fritz, and my beloved art teacher, Priscilla Davis, to name just a few, inspired, challenged, and encouraged me to use my brain and my creative abilities. Thank you, hometown teachers-you really did, and do make a difference in our lives.

When my husband left the Air Force and we moved back here a few years ago, I went to have my eyes examined by none other than Dr. Snellgrovewho gave me my first eye exam, oh, about 33 years ago. When I arrived, he grinned and said, "Well, now, Angela, bet you are surprised to see that I'm still practicing. . .you probably thought I'd died by now!"

I'm certainly glad he's still alive and flourishing, because I'm probably going to need those bifocal contact lenses any day now. It's nice to have a familiar, experienced hometown "doc" taking care of these weak eyes of mine. Thanks, Dr. Snellgrove for serving our community so well for so long.

Sadly, some of the wonderful role models of my youth are gone now. My wonderful aunt, who drove a Butler County school bus for many years, died suddenly a year or so ago. She managed to handle that big, unwieldy vehicle and its noisy passengers with skill, patience and humor. I don't know if the stress of the job contributed to the heart disease that ultimately took her life. I do know she managed to live several years more than any doctor expected, remaining active, full of fun; the kind of woman who took in strays to help themboth the four- and two-legged kinds

Thank you, dear aunt, for making those two-hour daily bus trips a much more pleasant experience than they could've been otherwise. I really, really miss you; you were a role model of generosity and gentleness for so many of us.

I was fearful just a few weeks ago that I was going to lose one of my current favorite Butler County heroes, my pastor, William Burns. His sudden heart attack caught our congregation off guard; we all mourned even the idea of losing such a warm, down-to-earth, compassionate leader. Thank the Lord for Bro. William's recovery, and thank you, pastor, for being such a great shepherd to our sometimes wayward flock. You're a hero to a lot of us.

Yes, a lot of good hometown folks have helped, guided, and encouraged many others and myself. I know that there are many more special people out there, unsung heroes and heroines of all ages and colors, who serve their towns, neighbors, communities, organizations, schools and churches with dedication, inspiration and enthusiasm. I'd love to meet them, talk with them, and perhaps share their stories with our readers. Please let us hear from you if you know of someone who deserves his or her moment in the spotlight.

You know, you can always read about the "fairy tale" lives of the rich and famous at the supermarket checkouts. What we'd like to do is to focus on the " ordinary" people who really make an extraordinary difference in our day-to-day lives. They are "stars" in the truest sense of the word. Let's give them the recognition they deserve.