Longtime Sunbury News contributor Lenny C. Lepola was one of thirteen honorees that were recognized for their accomplishments and volunteerism at the 43rd Annual Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame Recognition Ceremony on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at the Martin Janis Center in Columbus. Colleen Marshall of NBC 4 hosted the induction ceremony.
The Hall of Fame honors Central Ohio older adults who share their dedication, talent, and vitality in ways that significantly improve their communities and the lives of others. The Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging hosts the event each May during Older Americans Month, which celebrates the contributions of senior citizens.
The 2018 Inductees were as follows:
Inductees; Nominated by:
Delaware – Lenny Lepola Delaware County Board of Commissioners
Fairfield – Pastor Tony & Elaine Salvatori Fairfield County Board of Commissioners
Fayette – John Meriweather Bambi Baughn
Franklin – Dale Leach Leach Children – Pam, Judy, Jeffry, and Greg
Franklin – Dr. Clayton K. Lowe Friends, Colleagues, and Students
Franklin – Marshall A. Spalding Lauren Spalding
Licking – Bill & Pat Weaver Interim Healthcare
Madison – Glenn & Grace Feyh LifeCare Alliance
Pickaway – Mary Easter Richard B. Fisher
Union – JoAnn Stillings Richwood Civic Center and Union County Senior Services
Lenny Lepola — Delaware County
Lenny Lepola, a proud second-generation Finnish-American, is an evangelist for the role community journalism plays in our lives.
According to him, “Communities will not realize how much they need local news until it is gone.”
Lenny’s education includes a bachelor’s degree in general arts with a concentration in sculpture and a master’s degree in studio painting and historic preservation.
While most people know Lenny as the “News Guy,” there is a lot more going on there.
Growing up in the Youngstown/Warren area, he never had a television, and he still does not. Lenny grew up reading and first gravitated to the word-smith industry while living in Arizona.
Now 75, he served as a reporter and photographer for The Sunbury News, a weekly newspaper serving much of the eastern half of Delaware County. Despite retiring from this position due to health challenges, Lenny remains a ubiquitous presence visually documenting community events such as Big Walnut School basketball games, middle school science fairs, Chamber of Commerce breakfasts, Big Walnut Area Historical Society open houses, or Genoa and Harlem township meetings.
As Lenny proudly pointed out, he never missed publishing work in any edition of the paper since November 2005, when he was hired back after a year’s layoff when the paper’s ownership changed, until his retirement. He returned to the staff as a freelancer, so he could retain ownership of his work which enabled him to donate his photographs and time to local organizations and families of the school athletes.
Prior to his retirement, many of the images on the Big Walnut Local District’s website were Lenny’s donation. As Lenny says, “I’m a firm believer that schools are part of our infrastructure, just like roads and sewers. Communities are only as good as their schools are.”
Lenny’s daily routine first focuses on creating art. Graphite on paper is his current medium of choice, and he carves out time at the beginning of each day to work on his art. He says it is part of how he pays himself first. Lenny always told his son and daughter, “Pay yourself first, then do your budget. I look at what I do with my day, and that means I work on my art first.”
After his “Art First” time, Lenny answers the pile-up of emails he often finds in his inbox. He may head out to photograph a local event which he follows up with a half-mile to mile swim. “Every day of the week except Sunday,” he says.
Frequently that is followed by yet another local event to photograph, most often a sports event at a local school.
Typically he leaves with a clutch of email addresses for parents who he will send a professional-quality image documenting a moment in the life of their son or daughter at no charge.
About the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging (COAAA)
The Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging (COAAA) plans, funds, and delivers services that help older adults and individuals with disabilities remain safe and independent in their homes. With the assistance of area providers, COAAA arranges and coordinates services to help individuals with daily living such as homemaking, transportation, home delivered meals, and personal care. COAAA offers education and resources to caregivers, professionals, and the public and advocates for programs and policies that benefit older adults and individuals with disabilities. COAAA serves more than 9,000 people in eight counties: Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, and Union. COAAA is operated under the City of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department. For more information, visit www.coaaa.org
Information for this story was provided by the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging.