Lepola nominated to Hall of Fame

The Delaware County Commissioners were very happy to nominate Lenny Lepola earlier this year for consideration to be inducted into the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame. The Commissioners had nominated Lenny as their candidate for this Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, but unfortunately he was not selected to be Delaware County’s inductee this year.

“Whenever anyone from our office has participated in an event in the Sunbury and Galena areas, there has been Lenny, doing excellent work,” the commissioners said in a release. “Though he was not selected for induction this year, our office nonetheless was honored to bring his exemplary work and his many talents to the attention of the larger community, and we are happy to share our nominating statement with the readers of The Sunbury News.”

The statement reads as follows:

Lenny Lepola is a genuine and genuinely unsung hero of Delaware County life. At age 73, he is a reporter and photographer for The Sunbury News, a weekly newspaper that serves much of the eastern half of the county. As such, he is a ubiquitous presence at community events, be they Big Walnut High School basketball games or middle-school science fairs, Chamber of Commerce breakfasts, Big Walnut Area Historical Society open houses, or Genoa and Harlem township meetings.

As he proudly points out, he has not 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. But, critically, he returned to the staff as a freelancer so that he could retain ownership of his work.

The primary reason? So he could give it away to these same local organizations and families of the school athletes he photographed.

Many of the photos on the Big Walnut Local School District’s website are donations of Lenny’s: As he says, “I’m a firm believer that schools are part of our infrastructure, just like roads and sewers. Communities are only as good their schools are.”

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 TV, and now, after living in Delaware County since 2002, he still doesn’t. He grew up reading and, though he never studied journalism in school, he first gravitated toward journalism while living in Arizona.

His education — which includes a bachelor’s degree in general arts with a concentration in sculpture and master’s degrees in studio painting and historic documentation — focused on the visual, and creating art is still a part of his daily routine. 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’s part of how he pays himself first.

Lenny, the father of a son and daughter who both live in England now, says he always told them, “Pay yourself first, then do your budget. I look at that as what I do with my day and that means I work on my art first.”

But after the art comes answering the pile-up of emails that reporters often find in their inboxes, followed by a mid-day assignment for the paper, then a swim (“every day of the week except Sunday,” he says) of a half-mile to a mile in length, depending on how much time he has. That’s usually followed by an evening assignment for the paper, most often a sports event at a local school where he’ll leave with a clutch of email addresses for parents to whom he’ll send a professional-quality image of their son or daughter. At no cost.

Lenny is also a proud 2nd-generation Finnish-American and enjoys researching his roots. He is also an evangelist for the role that community journalism plays in our lives: “Communities will not realize how much they need local news until it’s gone,” he says.

Communities also need people like Lenny Lepola who give freely of their talents and show us all how to live life to the fullest.

We sincerely hope you see fit to honor Lenny with inclusion in this year’s Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

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