Meet the Toths
Al and Judy Gardilla Toth used to be early service regulars at Advent, so you late worship attenders may not have had much chance to get to know them. They live in Solon, and became members in 2014, having come from Lutheran Church of the Covenant.
Both Al and Judy are local people, Al graduating from Warrensville, and Judy from Bedford. They met at Sears, where Judy worked with Al’s cousin, and they were married at St. Jude’s Warrensville, in the summer of 1970 – so this is their big 50!!!! Congratulations, Al and Judy.
They have daughters Dawn and Kim (married to Mike Smilley, with one son), and a son David who lives with them. Al collects baseball cards, and Judy enjoys exercising. They haven’t been attending during the pandemic, so we look forward to seeing them again.
Meet the Chris Fye Family
The Fyes live on Janet Boulevard, right up Cannon Road from the church. They joined Advent in 2012, having moved from Redondo Beach (L.A.) California. Chris is V.P. of Business Development at Gentreo, an online estate planning company. He graduated from High School in Tallahassee Florida, then Florida State, and then earned his MBA from Harvard. He also served in the Navy on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson. Chris’ hobbies include spending lots of time with his daughters, gardening, salt water fishing, and cooking. He serves on the board of Harvard Alumni in N.E. Ohio and coaches the Science Olympiad at Solon H.S. He participates in Pastor’s men’s breakfasts.
Tabatha is a 10th grade at Solon. She’s on the soccer and debate teams, and was working on her driving learner’s license when this interview took place. Claudia is in 8th grade at the Middle School, and enjoys soccer, basketball, fishing, skateboarding, and animals. Gabby is in 5th grade at Orchard, and she loves soccer, basketball, and skateboarding too, but she is also mad about chess and has earned a national ranking for her age group.
The Fye Family say they are grateful to have the Advent community as a part of their lives.
Meet the Feltons
Bruce and Joann Felton and 12 year old daughter Bella joined Advent a few years ago. (Thank you, Isabella, for attending VBS and Sunday School with your school/Girl Scout friends and bringing your parents along!) At the time Bruce’s mother was attending with them too before she passed away.
Bruce was born in Russell Twp, graduated from West Geauga H.S., and received a degree in Criminal Justice from OSU in 1985. He joined the Solon Police force in 1990 and just retired two years ago. Along the way he served with the Army National Guard as a medic, worked in security at Kent State, received EMT training, worked as a part-time firefighter for Russell Twp., and graduated from the Police Academy in Columbus. While with Solon, he served in just about every capacity: undercover, detective, and finally administering training programs.
By comparison, Joann admits that her family life in the Broadway/Fleet area of Cleveland was not simple or easy, with parents with addictions, imprisonment, and a complicated blending of half-siblings. As the oldest girl in 7 children, Joann saw herself as the responsible one, and still serves as the “glue” that binds everyone together. She credits teachers and older cousins for the encouragement that gave her confidence in life. She graduated from Cleveland South and kept taking jobs, classes, and the many exams and interviews that led into law enforcement, like court reporting and being a corrections officer in North Royalton for 8 years. Finally her reputation for common sense, bravery, and physical ability got out, bringing more and more opportunities. Finally Solon enticed her into their department in 2001. Mostly she has been on patrol, car and bicycle, and later became the area DARE instructor.
Bruce and Joann met on the force in Solon and were married in 2007 -- at the Jefferson Memorial in D.C., no less – surely that's a story in itself! Bruce and Joann have obviously worked well to mesh three daughters from previous marriages. In fact, the honeymoon evidently turned out to be a family cruise! And now all the girls are very good friends and great big sisters to Bella, now 13: Gwendolyn 19, Dylana 22 (she manages the fascinating Duck Donut shop in the new shopping area near Whole Foods in Beachwood), and Ashley 28 (who just earned a Masters in Finance and works at a health care facility in North Royalton).
Since retiring, Bruce has created a small landscaping company "Star Maintenance" (so named so he can continue to wear a badge!) He's also very keen on fitness. Fortunately for our congregation, he also enjoys music of many kinds and plays the guitar (he was a great addition to our praise band on Axis days, may these days return quickly!).
Joanne loves fitness, running, people, and organizing parties. Even during this shut-down time, they have had “Felton Fridays” for a small group of friends and their children. She loves to bring people together. 2021 is the year to retire from the force, so we look forward to hearing of her next adventures.
Meet the Podolls
Advent was greatly blessed when Nate and Joellen joined us in August 2012 with then very little Bram, who was immediately adopted by the slightly older children. They came the day of our annual Congregational picnic, were invited to go, and loved it. Joellen joined Advent’s MOPS program, Nate often served as a lay leader and usher, and they jumped into everything.
Maryn arrived in 2013, born with serious heart defects and spending her first 7+ months in the hospital. She is doing so well now, and enjoys attending school at Cuyahoga Heights Elementary, cooking, music, playing board games, Cub Scouts, and she adores her brother. Bram is now 10, he also attends Cuyahoga Heights Elementary, and loves swimming, playing with Legos, soccer, video games, playing guitar and Cub Scouts. Bram is such a caring and empathetic kid who is amazing with Maryn.
Nate is a professional civil engineer who is now employed by Stantec Consulting Services as a project manager, but many will remember that he was transferred here when he was in the Coast Guard. He had graduated from High School in Newton NJ, and attended the Coast Guard Academy (serving for 22 years). Joellen is the Professional & School Liaison for Connecting for Kids, a local non-profit that helps to support and educate families who have any concerns about their 0-12 year old children. Joellen is a Michigan lass, having graduated from High School in Cheboygan before getting her undergraduate degree at Michigan State and eventually her Masters at Capella University. Her family still lives way up in Northern Michigan, and they have created ruts on the highways going back and forth.
Nate and Joellen when Nate was stationed on the new Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw and Joellen was the Event Coordinator for the Cheboygan Chamber of Commerce, she was coordinating a welcome ceremony for the ship and Nate was her contact. They married at St. John’s Lutheran, Cheboygan, December 31, 2008.
Both Nate and Joellen are very busy with A Special Wish Cleveland and other local nonprofits. When there’s time Nate may get to do his gardening and home improvements; and Joellen her fundraising and traveling.
Meet the Reeders
Kevin and Patrice Reeder moved to Macedonia two years ago to be closer to family. They transferred their membership from Resurrection Lutheran, Wooster, November 2019. Their employment is still in Wooster: Kevin works at the Luk/Schaeffler Group, as a bonding technician, and Patrice works as an academic administrative coordinator at The College of Wooster.
The Reeders’ son Drew and wife Ashley live in Willoughby with sons Luke and Colin, who have joined us at quite a few events. Their daughter, Danielle and wife Caryn, live in Willowick. Kevin and Patrice are now just one-half hour from their family instead of an hour and one-half.
Kevin graduated from Smithville High School, in Smithville (not far from Wooster) and served in the Air Force for 6 years. Patrice graduated from Wooster High School and Hammel Business College. She moved around a lot while growing up as her father was in the Air Force for 25 years. When not enjoying family, both Kevin and Patrice enjoy vacationing and exploring national parks in the western United States, camping, fishing, bike riding, and relaxing in their backyard. Kevin adds hunting, bowling, and golf to the list, while Patrice enjoys knitting, reading, and sewing.
The Reeders were married June 25, 1983. They look forward to getting back to regular church and activities, as they were just getting to know people when the pandemic caused the shut down of the church building.
Meet the Lewis Family
It’s finally time to know more about the Lewis Family!
Pastor Jim and Dana Magi Lewis came to Advent September 2009 when the call process found this wonderful and dynamic duo to be our pastoral and family life team after serving at Grace Lutheran in Dover. Abby was only 2 then, and it has been lovely to see the children grow and blossom in their many talents. The parents are pretty talented too. Hannah is now 15, a sophomore at Solon H.S., and shining in acting, singing, art, and flute. Isaac, 13 and an 8th grader at the Middle School, enjoys Lego, Minecraft, the trombone, and acting as well. Abby is 13 and a 7th grader there too. She is progressing very well at her riding lessons and percussion. Jim is a keen runner who enjoys golf and music.
Jim is a PK who graduated from Sheldon High School in Sheldon IA, and then Iowa State. Fortunately for us he did not become a golf course designer but attended seminary in St. Paul MN. There he met Dana, who had graduated from Ferndale Area High School in Johnstown PA and Penn State, before seminary. They married October 18, 1997 at the seminary. Their parents continue to live in their home towns.
Jim has his fingers in many local organizations, including SAIL (the Solon Alliance of Interfaith Leaders), and even played trombone (?) with the community band for a while. Dana is the corresponding secretary for the Solon PTA. They’ve brought many creative things to Advent to build up our family connections, including milestone blessings, trunk or treat nights, wonderful Vacation Bible School, MOPS, Parents’ Night Out, Christmas Cookie Open House, etc. (The “etc.” is huge.) We have been very fortunate to have Jim’s high tech and musical skills too, especially during this crazy time.
What does Advent mean in their lives? “Joy being part of this community. Have lived in Solon twice as long as any place since … married and love it here.”
Meet JOhn Sleasman
Meet John Sleasman, who has been a member of Advent and serving as a member of council or the finance committee forever! Just joking, he joined in 1987, transferring from Hope Lutheran in Cleveland Heights with daughter Elizabeth (Liz) and Jeff. After 30 years in Solon, living just up the road, he has moved to an apartment on the West Side. John graduated from a high school in Pittsburgh, and moved to the area to attend CWRU. He retired from a career in computer software. He used to play tennis and soccer, but now prefer less strenuous reading and somewhat less strenuous church activities. In fact, John says Advent has played a major role in his life, and he has also served in a variety of roles in our Northeast Ohio Synod. He’s now the parliamentarian. (He might be too humble to say, but John is a bit like Google – ask anything and he’ll have an answer.)
While the kids are now adults and living away from home, you old-timers might like an update. Liz Sleasman Chois has been a Spanish teacher ? since graduating from Laurel School and Miami of Ohio. She loves running and travel. Jeff, who graduated from University School and Miami, lives downtown with his new wife Jenin. He works ??? and she at the Cleveland Clinic.
Meet the Simas
The Simas have been members of Advent since the spring of 1976. They were married at Emmanuel Lutheran, Warren Ohio April 8, 1972, and faithfully brought their 3 daughters, Lori, Mary, and Barbara to Advent, where everyone was very involved. (Lori and Doug Burchard now bring Anna & William faithfully; as do Mary & Tommy Clutter, with Mariana, Jimmy, and Elena. Barbara and Nathan Weiderspahnlive in Hampton Township PA with Sarah, Isaac, and Evelyn, all active in their congregation.)
Jim and Mary Ann own Race-lite Southcoast in Maple Heights, a manufacturer of sailboat hardware. Jim graduated from Maple Heights High School and Kent State, while Mary Ann graduated from Leavittsburg High School and Kent State. They met at a dorm party at KSU their sophomore year. Jim served in the Coast Guard Reserves.
Advent continues to be “one of the most important things in our lives,” say the Simas, and they have been generous with their time and talents: Jim serving on council, as an usher, and on various committees; Mary Ann as president of council and many committees, including Education. Both have been part of the bell choirs since the bells arrived. Very handy, Jim created the lovely candelabra we use every Christmas season. His interests include model trains and sailing. Mary Ann loves everything to do with LYO. They were Advent’s youth leaders for many years, and Mary Ann serves on the LYO Board as Liaison to the NEO Synod. If you are considering going to Disney World and need advice – this family should be able to help!
Meet the Binkowskis
Tony and Kris Binkowski joined Advent with son Jacob (now a 6th grader at Brady Middle School) in 2017. They transferred in from First Baptist Church of Streetsboro, and live in Moreland Hills. Tony is a self-employed personal trainer who has a side business in woodworking. Kris is a Vice President for Nielsen in their Advanced Analytics Space.
Tony graduated from high school in Spring Lake Park, Minnesota and spent 10 years in the Marines. Kris is a California girl, graduating from San Dimas High and Cal Poly in Pomona CA with her Bachelors and Masters Degrees. They met through mutual friends while Tony was stationed at Camp Pendleton CA, and were married at Glenkirk Presbyterian in Glendora CA April 16, 2005.
They are a very busy family, supporting Jacob’s love of competitive gymnastics, space and videogames. Tony enjoys hiking, camping, woodworking and motorcycling. He also is a Cub Scout leader. Kris enjoys gardening, working with children, quilting, and reading, and coaching the boys’ gymnastics. During COVID, they added chickens to their family and they all enjoy and take care of them. Tony is one of Pastor’s high-tech gurus, and Kris has taught Sunday School, directed the children’s choir, and helped with the food pantry. Both enjoy helping with the Fellowship Committee.
When asked what Advent means in their lives, they said they first fell in love with the children’ program, and the VBS program about Jesus when he was a child. They appreciate how the members of the congregation work together.
Meet the Burchard's
Doug & Lori (Sima) Burchard are very active members of Advent, along with their children Anna, now 13 and a 7th grader at Solon Middle School, and William, 9, a 4th grader at Lewis. They now live in Solon, having moved around Northeast Ohio for fifteen years and renovating an impressive number of houses, before returning to the city where they both grew up.
Doug transferred his membership from Pioneer Presbyterian, Solon, and Lori started life here! They met at Solon High School Band Camp. Lori went on to Kent State and has continued working there in the Sponsored Programs department ever since, where she is now the Director. Doug has his undergraduate degree from Ohio University and master’s in Public Administration from Kent. They were married at Advent August 9, 1997.
Doug is now the Manager of Three Village Condominium in Lyndhurst, having previously served as city manager in Sebring, Ohio.
They share a passion for traveling, the LYO (Lutheran Youth Organization), and community service, including the Lions Club in Sebring. Doug enjoys cooking, reading and staying up with current events. He has been president of Advent’s Church Council and an able fill in for the adult bell choir. Lori has also served on council and the fellowship committee, a member of bells and adult choir, and is a Girl Scout leader. You need something done – just ask.
Doug and Lori find Advent has played a huge role in their lives and cannot imagine being without it.