The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, May. 30, 2020

13 named Peony ‘Flowers in Full Bloom’

VW independent/submitted information

The Peony Festival Board announces the 2020 Flowers in Full Bloom nominees. The nominees were submitted by the community to be recognized as women who have influenced, encouraged, and uplifted all those they have encountered. These women are truly inspiring and worthy of the community’s recognition.  

Eight of the 13 Flowers in Full Bloom nominees for 2020 are longtime friends and Lincolnview classmates. They include (front row, from the left) Carol Lininger and Susan Hinchcliff; (back row) Kathy Schaadt, Mary Jo Miller, Joan German, Brenda Beres, Suzi Bagley, and Jill Graves. photos provided

This year’s Flowers in Full Bloom nominees include the following:

Zoe Longstreth grew up in Van Wert and graduated from Van Wert High School. She and her husband, Terry, have six children, 18 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren, with one on the way. She says with pride “this is my pride and joy and my greatest accomplishment.” 

Upon graduation from high school, Longstreth went to work at Teleflex Corporation, and worked there for 21 years, 17 of those in production and four as a quality control engineer. At the age of 40, she decided to pursue her degree in quality control engineering, which she obtained from Rhodes State College and finished with a bachelor’s degree from Franklin University. 

Longstreth is currently employed by American Axel Manufacturing in Bluffton, Indiana, as its quality engineer. She says she was greatly impacted, while going to school and working at Teleflex by two women, also working at Teleflex, who went back to school to get their GEDs because she had gone back to school.

“Zoe Longstreth was a pleasure to work with on the Peony Festival Committee. on which she served for nine years as one of the hardest working ladies that I have ever had the pleasure to serve on a committee with,” said current Peony Festival President Vic Schulte.

Schulte said two of the years were spent leading the Fundraising Committee, while seven years were spent festival president. A number of activities and events were added to the festival while Longstreth served on the Committee, including additional children’s activities, as well as Saturday evening entertainment and several other items the community now enjoys in Fountain Park.

Sally Geething, one of Van Wert’s gems, arrived in Van Wert following her retirement in 1999. She was born and raised in Michigan, married her husband, Ray Geething, in 1959, and the couple moved to a farm near Marshall, Michigan, where they raised their two children, Jack and Anna. 

Geething is a proud grandmother to her granddaughter Terran, who blessed them with four great-grandchildren: Carmine, Vinny, Salvatory, and Isabella. 

Geething decided to remain here in Van Wert after her husband passed in order to remain close to all her extended family and her art community. She has been oil painting and teaching for over 25 years. Geething’s original paintings hang in Virginia, North Caroline, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. 

“If you have not taken one of her classes, I highly suggest you sign up,” Schulte said. “She is amazing.”

Geething notes that painting is her passion, while teaching others is a “dream come true.” She also offers oil painting classes on video. 

Geething has built her “Affordable Art” business through public and businesses by offering “Paint It In Design.” She has touched more than 2,000 local residents with her amazing talent and business. 

“I love people,” Geething added. 

Jane Lianez has been married to her best friend for 51 years and they have an awesome son, Michael. She enjoys reading, volunteering, and the Society for Creative Anachronism (historical re-enactment group). She worked for Van Wert City Schools for many years and managed Curves in Ottawa for three years. 

Lianez volunteers extensively within the Van Wert community and its organizations, such as Main Street Van Wert and the Van Wert Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and is a member of Twig III.

Nancy Potter is retired from the Starr Commonwealth and loved her job so much she went back a second time. She has four children, 11 grandchildren, and soon to be eight grandchildren, who all reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

She has been a long-time volunteer at the hospital, where she takes her dog, Skippy, who is a registered therapy dog to serve the patients. She is a member of Twigs and works at the hospital gift shop. Potter is also an active member of Merry Widows, which is a group of women giving and seeking encouragement after the death of a spouse. She has been the long-time secretary of her Sunday school class at Calvary Evangelical Church, where she is also serves on the hospitality team. 

Potter organizes community ladies Bunco and Euchre groups and is a member of Silver Sneakers. She has been known to invites single women to join her in extracurricular activities during the week outside of the Silver Sneakers program. 

Marylou McCracken Smith was raised in a family of eight children in Jackson Township, Van Wert County, and attended Lincolnview Local Schools. She is blessed to still have her mother living at the age of 99 years of age. 

Smith, who was chosen as a peony in full bloom a few years back, is married to Tony Smith, with family members Gabe and Trang Pollock, along with three grandsons and one granddaughter, and Ashleigh Smith (two children, Graig and Chelsea, are deceased). 

She loves spending time with her family and making special memories. She attends First United Methodist Church and is an active member of the Administrative Board, Bible Study, and Stephen Ministries. Previously, Smith worked for mayors Stan Alger and Eugene Bagley and finished her working career at the Van Wert County Health District. Smith also served on the Van Wert City Board of Education for eight years. She has enjoyed working with the Van Wert community, supporting organizations, such as youth baseball and attending events to show her support. 

The following eight women have been best friends since junior high school, and several of them since kindergarten. They have developed a bond that is unbreakable, and, through the years, have met for dinner once a month, which they refer to as their “board meetings”. Each month they pay their dues, which are recorded by their secretary, who also manages a bank account for their trip expenses. The money collected goes into a kitty to pay for upcoming adventures. Thus far, they have been to Chicago, New York City, The Outer Banks, and wine country in California, to name a few locations. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, all eight have faithfully zoomed one another every Wednesday evening. The eight women are as follows:

Mary Jo (Richards) Miller has resided in the Grover Hill area for the last 44 years, but was raised in York Township and is a 1971 graduate of Lincolnview High School. She and her late husband, Jim, are the parents of three children and have five grandchildren. After 33 years of service, she retired from Van Wert County Hospital and is currently a substitute rural mail carrier. Miller loves cooking and crafting, but, most of all, loves spending time with her family and friends. 

Joan German was born and raised in Van Wert and has been married to husband Greg for 31 years. The couple has two children, Jeff and Heather, and two granddaughters, Addie and Everly. She is involved in their family farming operation and enjoys babysitting for her two great-grandchildren, Shay and Colson. 

German enjoys reading, canning, and hanging out with friends.

Carol Lininger is a retired claims manager at Central Mutual Insurance Company, where she worked for 40 years. She has been married for 47 years to husband Gary, and they have two daughters and four grandchildren. 

Her husband owned Lininger Brothers Firestone until he retired eight years ago, and they love visiting their children and hanging out with friends and family. Lininger loves to crochet, craft and cook, and is honored to be nominated as a Flower in Full Bloom.

Jill (Kiehl) Graves is a 1971 graduate of Lincolnview High School and is married to Bill Graves. The couple has three sons, four granddaughters, and two grandsons, as well as three “granddogs”. Over the last 13 years she has been employed by Community Builders Inc., based in Boston, Massachusetts, and is currently a senior compliance analyst. Her husband is currently employed by MB2 dental at Forney Dental, assisting in the office. 

Graves enjoys planting flowers, cooking, and spending time with family and friends, and she is also honored to be nominated as a Flower in Full Bloom. 

Kathy Schaadt is a retired Emergency Room nurse who worked at Van Wert Health for 37 years. Her career has involved mentoring new nurses and promoting education and scholarships through the Van Wert Nurses Association. 

Schaadt is also an advocate for sexual assault awareness, has worked as a sexual assault nurse, and has served on the local task force. She very much enjoys taking care of others. 

Schaadt has been married to her husband, Bernie, for 49 years and they have been blessed with two children and five grandchildren. Her hobbies include gardening and attending the sporting events of her grandchildren, as well as enjoying lake time with family and friends. 

Brenda (Perry) Berres is the niece of Joann Adams, who was on the Peony Festival Committee for years. She is a nurse who worked for Dr. Craig Hansen and the Van Wert OB/GYN Group until she retired. Beres graduated from Lincolnview High School in 1971 and from Lutheran College Health Professionals. She married husband Gary 30 years ago. He is the manager of The Kenn Feld Group in Van Wert. 

She enjoys spending time with family and friends, crocheting, decorative painting, and sewing, and has been making masks for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Susan Hinchcliff was born and raised in York Township and currently lives in Grover Hill. She has been married to DeWayne Hinchcliff for 45 years this May, and they have a son, Kristopher, who lives in Columbus with his wife, Ali. The couple also has a daughter, Kari, who resides in Norristown, Pennsylvania, with her fiancé. 

Hinchcliff retired with over 40 years of service from GTE/Verizon/Frontier Telephone in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing golf, baking, horse racing, and traveling. 

Suzi (Dunlap) Bagley is a 1971 Lincolnview graduate, and has been married to Dave Bagley for 44 years. They have three children and nine grandchildren. Her husband is currently the superintendent for the Western Buckeye Educational Service Center. 

Bagley loves spending time with family and attending the grandkids school and sporting events. 

The remainder of the 2020 Flowers in Full Bloom nominees include (from the left) Marylou Smith, Sally Geething, Jane Lianez, Nancy Potter, and Zoe Longstreth.

POSTED: 05/22/20 at 2:12 am. FILED UNDER: News