By Linda Dillman
The end of an era occurred January 28 with the retirement of Frances Steube Community/Senior Center coordinator Linda Tennison after 14 years of service.
The center, which opened in 1982, will also be gone in a few weeks when it is demolished to make way for a new municipal building parking lot. Center operations will move into the west end of the municipal building.
Tennison oversaw Tuesday lunches and activities including bingo, euchre, outings and evenings trips—which she sometimes escorted.
“I learned so much about the people and history of Canal Winchester,” said Tennison. “I started working for the Senior Center in September of 2007, after my neighbor Penny Miller, the previous director of CW Human Services, encouraged me to apply for the position. I was hired to help Donna Warren, who was the director at that time. I met Frances Steube, the woman for whom the center is named. She was a strong and feisty lady, who knew how to get things done.”
Senior transportation services were scheduled from the center and it was Tennison’s job at first to schedule the drivers’ routes. She had the opportunity to get to know the drivers and by talking to clients on the phone, she got to know many older people in Canal Winchester and where they lived.
“I guess the best part of my being at the center for 14 years is that I got to really know so many people, and they included me in their lives as well,” said Tennison. “We care about each other. We support one another and we worry when a ‘regular’ is missing. We pray for each other and sometimes we love each other. Whether it’s cooking a meal, planning an event or just looking up a phone number for someone who doesn’t use a computer, the Frances Steube Community/Senior Center is the best place I have ever spent time and was able to get paid for it. Someone once said, ‘Find a way to get paid for doing what you love.’”
Steube, who was a historian, teacher and served on village council, was a leading advocate for the construction of the center in the 1980s as a place for senior citizens to gather after organizing as a group in 1977.
“Shortly after the 1970 census, it became evident to community minded citizens in the village that there was a need for an organization of citizens over 60 years of age,” wrote Steube and Lillian Carroll in their book, “Canal Winchester Ohio: The Second Ninety Years.” “The organization quickly grew and talk of a permanent place to meet became the main topic of conversation.”
Grants, village funding, and a $10,000 pledge from the senior citizens group helped move the center from an idea to fruition.
According to a news report, Canal Winchester resident Dick Weiser created the original plans for the structure, which incorporated an existing Lions Club shelter house. It featured not only a large multi-purpose room and a fully equipped kitchen, but also a small clinic.
The $200,000-plus center was dedicated on May 21, 1982, and the opening was attended by more than 100 people eager to get a look at the new building.
“The building has served for community meetings, private parties and village meetings. Senior citizens from Fairfield, Pickaway and Franklin County use the services offered there,” according to Steube and Carroll’s book.
The demolition of the former community/senior center is expected to take place in February.