Jewell Cardwell

Members of the Sharon Township Fire Department have a project under way they hope the community will support.

I have Lynne Black — executive director of Subcontractors Association of Northeast Ohio — to thank for bringing it to my attention. Her son Adam, currently serving in Iraq, works part time for the Sharon Township Fire Department and as a full-time fire medic in Youngstown.

At the heart of the “Last Alarm” project is providing a dignified funeral cortege for a fallen firefighter.

To that end, a “Last Alarm” fundraiser — put on by the Sharon Township Firefighters Association — is planned for 4 p.m. until closing March 16, at Thirsty Cowboys, 2743 Medina Road, Medina.

In addition to lots of live country music and the Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipes and Drums for entertainment (no cover charge); there will be lots of delicious and fun stuff on the menu: corned beef and cabbage (served until 7 p.m.), raffle tickets to win a 2013 Honda Rancher 4x4 ATV or $3,500 in cash and more. Tickets at $20 are available at Thirsty Cowboys, Rick Rousch Motor Sports in Medina or at the Sharon Fire Station.

According to fire Capt. Dennis Miller, all money raised will go to restoring the very first fire truck the township ever owned. He said: “Old 132, as they know it, was purchased June 2, 1950, for $10,000 and was reacquired by the firefighters association at the end of 2010. … Thanks to all the contributors at the fundraising events in 2012, Old 132 has made its way to West Coast Customs in California for the restoration to begin. There is still a huge need to raise funds to get Old 132 back home again so she can do her job.”

And her job, once fully restored, will be to give our heroes their “Last Call” ride to their final resting place.

Before making the journey to California, Old 132 carried Fred Hoffman to his final resting place. Hoffman was the assistant fire chief of Brunswick Hills Fire Department and one of the department’s founders. He was 94.

“Fire engines today stand over 10 feet tall and are too tall to bear caskets in a fashion worthy of the respect and honor those who have fallen deserve,” Miller said. “The (new) Old 132 will feature an apparatus with a custom-built casket system that will allow firefighters to remove the casket without tilting it … These local heroes are our first responders, ready to serve their community and give their lives to save others …

“It is the dream of the Old 132 dream team to carry heroes around the state with dignity and pride when she returns. She will be ‘free’ to any department that requests her services statewide. For them, being transported to a final resting place on a fire engine is considered the highest honor a firefighter can receive, a tradition of respect for all they gave, making their “Last Alarm” ride to their final resting place one with dignity.”

Old 132 will be available to the families of fallen firefighters and police and public safety officials, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Wishes Can Happen recipients who request its use.

Donations are being accepted at the Sharon Township Fire Department, c/o Memorial Truck Fund at 1274 Sharon-Copley Road, Sharon Center. Checks should be made payable to STFA (Sharon Township Firefighters Association). Write Memorial Truck Fund on the memo line.

High productivity

Now comes word that 101-year-old Cuyahoga Falls resident Edith “Edie” Mae (Starry) Parker — featured in my Feb. 17 column — is even more of a doer than previously thought.

I had shared what a prolific and generous crochet artist she has been over the years and continues to be, making hats for babies in hospitals.

Edie had shared during the interview that the yarn for the project was all donated, most of it by a doctor.

That person, I have since learned, is Dr. Nancy Istenes, a geriatrician with Summa.

Istenes first learned about the iconic Edie from her staff, who make house calls at Sutliff II apartments in Cuyahoga Falls, where Edie has lived for the last 39 years. “They told me how she was always asking for yarn. And they were bringing all the hats back with them, not knowing what to do with them,” Istenes said.

Turns out the good doctor, who has a passion for knitting, and the then 99-year-old met a short time later. Since then Istenes has made it her mission to keep Edie supplied with yarn. Istenes also takes it upon herself to find good homes for Edie’s meticulously crafted handiwork. The baby hats go to Summa’s newborn nursery and the larger ones get distributed to the Christ Child Society (which provides school uniforms and other essentials to students in need), a homeless shelter in Cochocton and various other places. Fellow knitting friends of the doctor also have contributed to Edie’s noble habit.

Istenes said she finally started “keeping track” in March 2012 of just how many hats Edie was producing. “It’s been well over 750,” she marveled.

Of that number, Edith has donated 300 hats currently in use by students in the Akron Public Schools (APS), said Donna-Marie Smith, secretary in the Teaching and Learning Department of APS.

“I’ve been coordinating the collection and disbursement of winter wear to APS students from preschool to eighth grade for about five years. Akron City Hospital, members of the Akron Association of Classified Personnel and other APS employees and my former knit group also have donated to the cause.

“I crochet every day except Sunday,” Istenes said Edie once told her, adding, “And sometimes I sneak on Sunday. But I think that’s OK.”

Just think all of that production coming out of a place that’s not even zoned commercial. Shhhhh!

Youth of the Year

Major kudos to Boys & Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve’s Brian Brown, winner of the clubs’ “Bud Rogers 2013 Youth of the Year’’ contest. He will advance to the Ohio State competition, which takes place April 19-20.

Carol J. McCullough, development specialist for the clubs, said Brian — a sophomore at Akron’s Garfield High School — has been a member of the BCGWR for five years and is involved in the following leadership roles within the club: Keystone Club president, Triple T program participant (in collaboration with Planned Parenthood; helps teens to make healthy lifestyle decisions and trains them to be peer leaders in their community) and Junior Staff (career development). His career goal? To become CEO of his own computer company.

Runner-up was Maya Lanier, a freshman at Akron’s STEM High School and a member of the BGCWR since she was 5. She volunteers at Haven of Rest, a church bereavement group and is active with a dance team. Her career goal? To become a neurosurgeon.

The winner will receive a $1,000 college scholarship. The state winner also will receive a $1,000 scholarship and an opportunity to participate in a regional competition, with the five regional winners receiving $10,000 scholarships. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional $50,000 and be installed by President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

McCullough said the Dick and Chris Chenoweth Scholarship Fund was established in 2010 when the GAR Foundation honored Richard Chenoweth’s service to the Greater Akron community by designating a fund to be used according to his wishes.

And there’s this. “BGCWR received a $200,000 gift, which provides tuition assistance for club members to attend private high schools, and a $1,000 college scholarship for the annual Youth of the Year winner.”

For more information on BCGWR, please call 330-773-3375, ext. 18; or email

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or