Paul and Annette Hoverman pose with a gift from the Toledo Ballet. (Photo submitted)
Paul and Annette Hoverman pose with a gift from the Toledo Ballet. (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT – On Monday, Niswonger Performing Arts Center Executive Director Paul Hoverman wrapped up his last day at the Van Wert County Foundation where he has been for 17 years. Hoverman has been the Executive Director of the NPAC since it opened 12 years ago.

On Saturday, Hoverman got a special surprise when he found out prior to the evening “Sound of Music” performance that a fund had been started in he and his wife’s name. The Paul and Annette Hoverman Music Fund was made possible through donations from Van Wert County Foundation and the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation. The Van Wert County Foundation plans to match those donations.

“They (Chuck Koch and Seth Baker) did a proclamation thanking me for all my years of service at the Foundation and with the Niswonger,” said Hoverman of Saturday evening.

Outside of Hoverman’s office at the Van Wert County Foundation are plaques noting trusts people have placed in the hands of the Foundation. For 17 years, Hoverman has looked at the pictures on the wall, which include his parents. Now, he and his wife will join them.

“That is pretty special,” said Hoverman.

Hoverman has always had a passion for music. He attended Bowling Green University in 1985 and obtained a degree in music education. He taught in the public school system for six years before going on to open his own music store in Van Wert – Hoverman Music Center.

“Music was big and important in our family,” said Hoverman who noted his brother was a music major. “I ended up going into music; it was gratifying, and I was pretty good at it. It grew as more and more of a passion.”

Hoverman operated his store for 14 years before finding his way to the Foundation where he was named Coordinator of Performing Arts in 2002.

“That’s when I established the Fountain Park Summer Music Series and took over control of the Van Wert County Community Concert Series,” said Hoverman. “I also started a Sanctuary Series, a series of concerts that went around to mostly the downtown churches.”

In the early 2000s, Van Wert City Schools began talks of building a new school which would include an auditorium. The auditorium, however, couldn’t be funded by the state and donations would need to be raised. Hoverman served on the Legacy Committee to raise funds for the Niswonger Performing Arts Center and helped to establish the Van Wert Area Performing Arts Foundation Board of Directors in 2005.

“There was a lot of planning that went into that,” said Hoverman of the NPAC. “We opened up in March 2007. The Van Wert County Foundation reached a lease agreement with Van Wert City Schools and then they said, ‘Alright Paul, now you go run that place.’ So what started as a real nice little gig here at the Foundation, turned out to be the Executive Director of the Niswonger. It grew to something quite big.”

Over his years with the Niswonger, there have been many memorable moments. Hoverman named the Gala, which celebrated 10 years of the NPAC, with Bernadette Peters and the Boston Pops Orchestra as a huge highlight.

“That was bigger than I ever imagined,” said Hoverman, who also reminisced about the many artists he has met through the music programs in Van Wert. “The number of people that have come through is amazing.”

Hoverman also cited the Ohio State Marching Band performance in Van Wert as a highlight. His son was in the band at the time, which made it more special for him.

In retirement, Hoverman has several plans. Since 1987 he has played trumpet with the Lima Symphony Orchestra and he has also been the choir director at First United Methodist Church since 1993; he plans to continue to be involved in both of those programs.

Hoverman and his wife Annette have three children: Kristen Gillespie, Tim Hoverman, and Jake Hoverman. Hoverman plans to spend more time with his family in retirement. In July, his daughter, who lives in California, is expecting a child. Hoverman plans to make a trip to see his first grandchild.

This past weekend, his family surprised him with a new scooter which he also plans to enjoy in retirement.

This week, Tafi Stober will rise to the position of Executive Director of the Niswonger Performing Arts Center.

“They will be in good hands,” said Hoverman of the Niswonger. “Things will probably change some and be different, but they should be.”

“It’s taken a village to make it work,” added Hoverman. “It’s been a great ride, and it all couldn’t have happened without the Van Wert County Foundation. They believed in me enough to bring me on in 2002 and let me work the vision I had.”