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Register Awards: Three Erie County residents recognized for service

Sandusky Register Staff • Jan 3, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Audrey Shafer

For much of her life, Sandusky resident Audrey Shafer has donated her time and personal resources to ensure her community is a better place.

She spearheaded a campaign this past summer, for instance, to raise donations to repair a once-decaying veterans memorial at Oakland Cemetery. The monument — a shrine to those who have died in war, including her late husband, William, who fought in World War II — is now cleaned and refurbished.

A decade ago, the BGSU Firelands graduate enrolled in a Stein Hospice volunteer program, which aims could make people's last days on Earth as comfortable as possible.

And even before then, Shafer offered to teach evening classes and offered for projects supporting Perkins Schools.

The volunteering doesn't stop for the 83-year-old go-getter.

Shafer, who moved to Parkvue Place in early 2012, she launched the senior living center's media library and still organizes the home's Sunday night classic movie presentation.

"She is 4 foot 10 inches and has a heart twice that size," friend Thomas Moore said. "She gets more enjoyment out of giving things to people that I've ever seen in my life."

Shafer's goodwill started in 1945 as a baby sitter — all the while juggling two jobs at Belstein Library and Gray Drug store in high school.

The 1947 Sandusky High School graduate, immediately after they commencement ceremony, began working at Periodical Publishers' Service Bureau, a division of Hearst Corp in New York. She worked as a ledger clerk.

Other jobs followed at General Motors, Company, Sears, Roebuck & Co. and even helped open the Milan Road Walmart store in 1986.

Throughout this periods, Shafer always found time for volunteers, such as serving on Sandusky's Human Relations Commission — which seeks to amicably settle disputes community members voice about city policies — and researching cures to help solve Alzehimer's.

Shafer enjoys chatting with people and is willing for anyone to come up to her at Parkvue just for a quick chit chat.

"You won't find anybody that is more willing to do anything for anyone, no matter aha there race, status or religion is," Moore said. "She is just a good person."

Bob Hemminger

You wouldn't think that Firelands Habitat for Humanity's hardest-working volunteer would be the guy who is 93 years old.

But officials at the agency say Bob Hemminger, 93, of Huron Township, provides more hours of work to the agency than any other volunteer. Hemminger donated more than 600 hours in 2012, said Judy Hippler, president of the Firelands Habitat for Humanity Board.

For his enduring efforts, Hemminger is a recipient of this year's Register Award. He's such a prominent volunteer, in fact, this is actually his second time winning the award — he won in 2007, too.

Another Habitat volunteer, Kathie Babiasz, nominated Hemminger.

"I've known him since 2007. He's the nicest guy. He never raises his voice," Babiasz said.

Hemminger knows how to do everything and spends much of his time patiently teaching construction skills to the other volunteers, Hippler said. 

"He's not just standing around giving advice," said Mike McCall, executive director of Firelands Habitat for Humanity. "He's working as hard as anyone on the job site."

Hemminger is well-known for his skills. He has invented devices that make sure components are place in exactly the right spot, Hippler said.

He's also well-known for making sure volunteers have fun when they're at the work sites, Hippler said.

"All of the time he puts you at ease," she said. "He always makes you feel you're doing a great job." 

Firelands Habitat for Humanity has an annual awards banquet to honor its volunteers. One of the awards is the Bob Hemminger Lifetime Achievement Award.

"We give that out to special people," Hippler said.

A retired farmer, Hemminger often allows his equipment to be used for building projects. He and his late wife, Melba, donated a building, the Bob and Melba Hemminger Workshop, where exterior walls and sheds are built during winter months so they'll be ready in the spring.

Melba Hemminger died about four years ago.

"He still misses  her," Hippler said. "We were eating lunch together this past month. He brought it up. He still misses her every day."


Richard Gallagher

He's best known as "science guy" and "Mr. Wizard."

But Richard Gallagher, of Sandusky, could easily be called the man behind the scenes, as he's a frequent leader in any number of community events each year.   

His undying commitment to Sandusky's youngest residents has earned him a 2012 Register Award.

"He's virtually a full-time volunteer," said Bill Biehl, a retired Sandusky Schools principal. 

Embracing retirement, Gallagher volunteers his time and equipment to share the wonders of science with children at events throughout Sandusky each year. He's resourceful in repurposing his props for experiments and scientific phenomena that serve as inspiration to young audiences, Biehl said.

"He's really kind of a big kid himself, to be honest with you," he said.

Gallagher's creative work with Sandusky Children's Museum is just a small slice of his dedication to Sandusky and its youth.

He's treasurer for the Friends of Sandusky Greenhouse and helps out at greenhouse events, too He's a member of the Sandusky Schools Academic Booster Club, and he also pitches in at the social studies challenge, math blast and third-grade spelling bee.

His scientific wizardry is on display each year at Kidsfest, where he serves on the safety committee that hosts the event with support from the Wightman-Wieber Community Foundation.

Gallagher has helped organize the annual event for the past decade, ever since Kidsfest started, board member Karleen Wieber said.

"He's always setting up and taking down and making sure everything goes right," she said. "He's there whenever you need him. He's just that person."

Gallagher is also instrumental in setting up the concert series and other events at the Washington Park gazebo.

And it's not just what he does — it's how he does it.

"You never see him in a bad mood, never," Wieber said.

"I'm glad he's getting some recognition," Biehl said. "I know he doesn't work for that."

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