Back Row L-R: Kathy Schaadt; Mary Jo Miller; Joan German; Brenda Berres; Suzi Bagley Jill Graves. Front Row L-R: Carol Lininger and Susan Hinchcliff
Back Row L-R: Kathy Schaadt; Mary Jo Miller; Joan German; Brenda Berres; Suzi Bagley Jill Graves. Front Row L-R: Carol Lininger and Susan Hinchcliff

VAN WERT – The Peony Festival Board announced the 2020 Flowers In Full Bloom nominees. These nominees were submitted by the community to be recognized as women who have influenced, encouraged, and uplifted all those who she has encountered.

These women are truly inspiring and worthy of the community's recognition.

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, Zoe went to work at Teleflex. She worked there for 21 years–17 of those in production and four as a Quality Control Engineer. At the age of 40, Zoe decided to pursue her degree in Quality Control Engineering, which she obtained from Rhoades State College and finished with a bachelor’s degree from Franklin University. Zoe is currently employed by American Axel Manufacturing in Bluffton, Indiana, as their 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. She served on this Committee for nine years as one of the hardest working ladies that members have ever had the pleasure to serve on a committee with. Two of the years, were spent leading the Fundraising Committee. Seven years was spent as the President. Many things were added to the Festival, while Zoe served on the Committee, such as additional kid’s activities, Saturday evening entertainment, and lots of other things the community enjoys in Fountain Park.

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

Sally is the proud grandma to one granddaughter, Terran, who blessed them with four great-grandchildren, Carmine, Vinny, Salvatory, and Isabella. Sally decided to stay here in Van Wert after her husband passed, to remain close to all her extended family and her art community. Sally has been oil painting and teaching for over 25 years. Sally’s original paintings hang in Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana.

Sally says, “painting is her passion and teaching others is a dream come true.” She also offers oil painting classes on video. Sally has built her “Affordable Art” business through public and businesses, by offering “Paint It In Design.” She has touched over 2,000 local residents with her amazing talent and business. Sally says, “I love people.” This truly shows as soon as you meet her.

Jane Lianez has been married to her best friend for 51 years and they have an awesome son, Michael. She enjoys reading, volunteering, the Society for Creative Anachronism (history reenactment group). She worked for Van Wert City Schools for many years and managed Curves in Ottawa for three years. Jane volunteers extensively within our community and its organizations, such as Main Street Van Wert, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and is a member of TWIG III. This is an honor for her to be chosen as a lady in full bloom.

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 Hospice 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. Nancy is also an active member of Merry Widows, which is a group of women giving and seeking encouragement after the death of a spouse.

Mrs. Potter has been the long-time secretary of her Sunday School class at Calvary Evangelical Church where she also serves on the hospitality team. Nancy organizes community ladies Bunco and Euchre groups and she is a member of Silver Sneakers. She has been known to invite single ladies to join her in extracurricular activities during the week outside of the Silver Sneakers program. As you can see, she fills her days with volunteering and encouraging others. Nancy is a prime example of a Lady in Full Bloom and it is a privilege and an honor to nominate her.

Marylou Mccracken Smith was raised in a family of eight children in Jackson Township, Van Wert County and attended Lincolnview schools. She is blessed to still have her mother living at the age of 99 years old. Her mother was chosen as a peony in full bloom a few years back. Marlou has been 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 who are both 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 Admin Board, Bible Study, and Stephen Ministries. Previously, Marylou worked for both Mayor Stan Alger and Mayor Eugene Bagley. She finished up her working career at Van Wert County Health Department. Marylou was on the Van Wert City School Board 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. She is honored today to be nominated as a Flower in Full Bloom.

The following eight ladies have been best friends since Junior High, and several of them since kindergarten. These ladies have developed a bond that is unbreakable. Through the years, they have met for dinner once a month. They refer to these dinners 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 their upcoming adventure!

Thus far, they have been to Chicago, New York City, Outer Banks and Wine Country in California to name a few. Through the COVID-19 pandemic they have faithfully Zoomed one another every Wednesday evening. Brenda Berres, being nominated, thought it a wonderful idea to nominate all her best friends so that they could all participate in Flowers in Full Bloom.

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

Joan German was born and raised in Van Wert. She has been married to Greg for 31 years. They have 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. She enjoys reading, canning, and hanging out with friends. She is honored to be nominated as a Flower in Full Bloom!

Carol Lininger is a retired Claims Manager at Central Mutual Insurance Company. She has worked there for 40 years. She has been married for 47 years to Gary. She has two daughters and four grandchildren. Her husband owned Lininger Brothers Firestone until he retired eight years ago. They love to visit their children and hang out with friends and family. She loves to crochet, craft, and cook. It is an honor to nominate Carol as a Flower in Full Bloom.

Jill (Kiehl) Graves is a 1971 graduate of Lincolnview High School, married to Bill Graves. They have three sons, four granddaughters, two grandsons and three grand dogs. Over the last 13 years she has been employed by the Community Builders, Inc., out of Boston, Massachusetts, currently as a Senior Compliance Analyst. Bill is currently employed by MB2 dental at Forney Dental assisting in the office. Jill enjoys planting flowers, cooking, and spending time with family and friends. Jill is honored to be nominated as a Flower in Full Bloom.

Kathy Schaadt is a retired Emergency Room nurse from Van Wert Health after 37 years of service. Her career has involved mentoring new nurses, promoting education and scholarships through the Van Wert Nurses Association. Kathy is an advocate for sexual assault awareness. She has worked as a sexual assault nurse and has served on the task force. She thoroughly enjoys taking care of others. Kathy has been married to 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 the grandchildren and enjoying lake time with family and friends. Kathy is honored to be part of the Flower in Full Bloom.

Brenda (Perry) Berres is the niece of Joann Adams who was on the Peony Board for years. Brenda is a nurse who worked for Dr. Hansen’s and the VW OB/GYN Group until she retired. Brenda graduated from Lincolnview High School in 1971 and then from Lutheran College Health Professionals. She married Gary 30 years ago. He is the manager at Kenn Feld Group Van Wert. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, crocheting, decorative painting, and sewing, as she has been making masks for the COVID-19 pandemic. Brenda is honored to be nominated as a Flower in Full Bloom.

Susan Hinchcliff born and raised in York Township and she currently lives in Grover Hill, Ohio. She is married to DeWayne Hinchcliff for 45 years this May. They have a son, Kristopher and his wife Ali who reside in Columbus, Ohio. They also have a daughter, Kari and her fiancé who reside in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Susan retired with over 40 years of service with GTE/Verizon/Frontier Telephone in Fort Wayne. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing golf, baking, horse racing, and traveling. It is a pleaser to nominate Susan as a Flower in Full Bloom.

Suzi (Dunlap) Bagley is a 1971 Lincolnview graduate. She has been married to Dave Bagley for 44 years. They have three children and nine grandchildren. She is a retired bookkeeper/receptionist. Dave is currently the Superintendent for Western Buckeye Educational Service Center. Suzi loves spending time with family and attending the grandkids school and sporting events. It is an honor to nominate Suzi as a Flower in Full Bloom.