Galen & Donna Swab are both original members of Advent, as their families had both joined when it was established. Galen's family lived in Warrensville and transferred from Lutheran Church of the Covenant in Maple Heights. Donna and her family transferred from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Cleveland, although they lived in Bedford Heights. Their parents were Edward and Marie, from Warrensville and Art and Ruth Ungar, from Bedford Heights.
Galen and Donna were members of the newly formed Luther League, and said it was so big and popular that they had multiple people running for the offices. (They confessed to not voting for the other.) Galen was the first president and Donna first secretary.
Galen and Donna married December 12, 1970 (yes, the big 50 is coming up this year), just before Galen graduated from Bowling Green in business education. They had planned on staying on in Bowling Green, but Mr. Swab died suddenly, and they moved back to the area. Galen did graduate school at Kent State and taught in a variety of high schools before moving into sales, retiring from Stevens Worldwide Van Lines. Donna trained in secretarial work and worked with Don Ganzhorn many years ago, and then for the city of Solon for 17 years.
Their immediate family is son Brian, now 46, married, working in information technology, and living in North Royalton with his wife and 3 sons; and Amy, now 42, married, working as a physical therapist at Summa Hospital, Akron, and living in Uniontown with her husband, son, and twin daughters. Both were baptized and confirmed at Advent (so look up their photos some day on the education wing wall).
During their many years at Advent, Galen played on the original softball team for several years, and served numerous terms on church council, taught adult Sunday school, and served as usher and communion server.
The Swabs have always enjoyed travelling, and have visited all 50 states and dozens of national parks and monuments. The cruising bug hit over 20 years ago, and they have never tired of meeting new people, seeing new sights, and learning about other cultures. They value Mark Twain’s opinion: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
In addition to travel, Galen enjoys gardening and is a regular blood donor with the Red Cross, with nearly 200 donations. Donna enjoys reading and having lunch out with friends.
The Swabs have lived on Liberty Road in Solon for most of their marriage. If you don’t know this wonderful couple, make sure you introduce yourselves when at last we can return to worship inside Advent.
Joan Groening has been Advent's wonderful Coordinator of Sunday Volunteers for at least 13 years, often an usher, a Altar Guild member, and on Fellowship Committee.
Joan moved to Solon as a 6-year-old to the corner house at Solon and Bainbridge, with her grandparents soon moving into the "little yellow house" next door. Anyone interested in Solon's history should talk to Joan - fascinating stories about her corner house being the former Post Office on the main street, and the High School campus being carved out of a farm and surrounded by cows. After graduating from KSU with a BS she taught school in Orange in Special Ed, and after earning a Masters from KSU she worked for the state of Ohio as a vocational rehabilitation counselor.
Joan had known Ron Groening for many years, and they married on April 1st, 2000, soon moving back from Cleveland to the "little yellow house" next door to daughter Tina (& Tim) Stawiarski. That's when granddaughter 2-3 year old Kelsey said "I think you should start teaching me about Jesus" - so everyone started coming to Advent. (Note: when Kelsey graduated from SHS in 2011, the papers carried a story noting 50 years after her grandmother's own graduation.)
How many of you know that Joan led the way in pioneering women's shooting leagues?
And of course Joan also led the way in the formation of what we now know as H3O, which is where she will tell you her faith has grown as she has seen God at work meeting specific needs. Evidently it was Kelsey's reaction to a visit by men from the Cleveland Men's Shelter who prompted grandma to start gathering furniture with Jerry Johanson in Tim's dilapidated truck. After a season or two of that, she visited the Broadway warehouse intending to say she was stopping, what with winter coming, but when the man there said "I don't know how we will get enough furniture," she pledged to keep getting more, and more, and more. H30 was eventually formed when this furniture emphasis combined with the parallel ministry of providing clothing and food to the same population at Our Redeemer.
A keen gardener who loves the outdoors, parks, and animals, she now shares Tina's 3 dogs to make it easier for Joan and Ron to spend winters away: in the Carolinas for 4 years, Daytona Beach and Sarasota FL, and New Orleans.
So, meet and greet Joan now before she disappears for the winter!
Eleanor Melzer, aka Ellie, is a valued member of Advent. She usually sits on the left side (as
you enter) toward the front, smiling shyly at everyone and enjoying hugs when we pass the
Peace. And if you don't think you know her - she's the one with the New York accent!
Born in Brooklyn, Ellie married Bob and lived 2 doors down from her in-laws before moving to Farmingdale Long Island when the children arrived - Robert III, Laura (Sheridan) and Leslie (Tancredi). How we miss Bob, who died November 22, 2004.
When he was asked to start a new office for his NY textiles company in Shaker, the family
moved to north Solon. When the company wanted to move him back to NY, the family stayed - good for Advent! And when another sales job ended, Bob and Ellie turned his passion for
photography into a profession. Many Advent brides and graduates had their photos taken by the Melzers, who started the photo board in the narthex.
Ellie worked for some years for a newspaper, and later in Leslie's office, but was joyfully a homemaker. And now she is busy enjoying the many activities at the Solon Senior Center. In fact, she goes there just about every day for "senior games," singing and acting groups, cards, speakers series, and bus trips - including to grandson Eddie Tancredi's fabulous near-west-side restaurant The Distill Table (a shameless plug -- Eddie trained at the Pittsburgh Institute of Culinary Arts and then trained, and worked at WV's Greenbrier Resort). She is suitably proud of her family, which now numbers 5 grandchildren 32-40, and 7 great-grandchildren 8-21 (and, yes, there is a Robert IV and a V).
Ellie said her life was changed by the two-year Bethel Bible study she had participated in at her church in New York, and the Melzers encouraged Advent to host the program. Ellie went to Wisconsin for the intensive training program, and later trained to present the Wisdom Series as well. Both made her so much more aware of Jesus' love and sacrifice.
And what is something you might not know about Ellie? She is still a faithful and active blood
donor for the American Red Cross.
Elena Naydinskaya and daughters Sasha (almost 13) and Nina (9) moved to Solon Ohio from
Moscow in 2016. Elena's background is Jewish (on her father's side) and Russian Orthodox, but she decided after moving that Orthodox services would not be easy for the girls to understand or enjoy (they are held in Russian - old Russian; everyone stands; etc). Advent is happy to have them here!
Originally from Ukraine, after a few years at the local teachers'; institute Elena moved to Moscow to study languages: Russian, English (at Trinity College, Dublin), and French (in Lyons, France). You might ask her about summers volunteering at the Taize community in France, or about working as an au pair for a French family. After finishing her university she married and became mother to the girls, but sadly the marriage ended. By then Elena's parents had emigrated to Cleveland (in 2002) and established themselves, and Elena had visited them 3 times. They encouraged her to emigrate in 2016 after finding that the refugee program would still be applicable. In fact many members of her immediate and extended family are in the greater Cleveland area, including a married sister and brother.
Nina attends Lewis Elementary, and Sasha Solon Middle School. Both girls have been enjoying a variety of camps during the summer.
Elena is currently studying Occupational Therapy at Tri-C.
Ernie and Mary Balint recently celebrated 71 years of marriage, and have lived in their Bedford Heights home over 50 of them. They are among our longest members at Advent and we are sorry that health issues now prevent them from attending. Ernie has been receiving injections for macular degeneration for 7 years, and Mary has become rather fragile.
Both Ernie and Mary are from the Cleveland area. In the Depression, Ernie's family moved a lot: from the Hungarian area, to Lyndhurst, Orange, Mayfield Heights, and more. In fact, at one point he lived in the house that Joan Groening now owns. He graduated from John Adams H.S. Mary explained that she had attended Catholic schools, and when the nuns first asked her name and she replied "Mary," they suggested she go by Merriam instead. Ernie admitted that he never checked to see which was her real given name.
Many of you know that Ernie participated in invasion of Normandy in World War II, about a month after D-Day. He had been drafted at 18 and trained in a variety of locations in the US before setting out in a 12-day convoy across the Atlantic, and then joining the push through to the Rhine with Patton's 9th Division. Even though he participated in the victorious wrap up in that theater, memories are obviously painful, and we thank him and his brave compatriots for their sacrifice.
After returning home, Ernie courted this attractive sister of his cousin's wife, and trained as a mechanic (eventually becoming service manager at a Firestone center). The Balints have a son and daughter, who now live in Garfield and Aurora, as well as 4 adult grandchildren.
(Your interviewer had fun comparing notes on the prices of first apartments - $26/month for 2 small rooms with a kitchenette!). When Ernie was forced into early retirement when the center closed, Mary joined the workforce at McDonalds - something she found fun, as many other housewives in their neighborhood worked there.
Ernie and Mary said they enjoyed the senior events that Advent used to have - cards, outings, picnics, and craft fairs. In fact Mary organized many of those outings, and Ernie did the posters and other art work needed by the church. He is quite an accomplished painter.
Elaine is one of our newest members to Advent, having transferred recently from Church of the Master. She was born in Newcastle PA but moved to the area at the age of 3, and now lives in Bedford. She says she visited her grandmother every summer back in Newcastle until she graduated from high school. Elaine's brother, sister-in-law, and some nephews live nearby.
Sadly, Elaine's daughter, CJ's mother, died from cystic fibrosis a few years ago. CJ's stepfather has guardianship, but CJ enjoys his grandma-time on weekends.
Elaine ended her 18 years at Swagelok due to her poor heath: arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. (If you are considering a joint replacement, Elaine has lots of experience.) In fact, if you don't know Elaine, look for the smiling lady with a surgical collar on, as she recuperate from recent spinal surgery.
Elaine was attracted to Advent because of its friendliness, the vibrant pastor, the Word on
Wednesday Bible Study, the helpful members, and the fact that it has so many welcoming kids.
CJ is going into 6th grade and loves baseball (he's played in the summer league). He expressed disappointment when summer ended the Sunday School program for the year and he would no longer have Miss Dana for a teacher. Besides baseball, CJ loves being helpful, and is very comfortable around the elderly, like when he visits nursing homes.
For her part, Elaine enjoys crafts, such as making wreaths and centerpieces for showers. She
used to organize the letters and cards to shut-ins and just likes to be helpful.
Everyone should know Michele as she is often seen coordinating the Coffee Hour (she says she learned the ropes from Marge Everhart). She is currently Secretary of Council (having served a number of terms), a Sunday School teacher (loves those kids!), and VBS program volunteer and just about everywhere!
Michele has worked in the English-as-Second-Language field for 29 years, thanks in part to her wonderful summer exchange experience to Brazil (the French-speaking programs were over-subscribed, but she ended up with THE best family!). She loves languages, but started in Political Science at the University of Pittsburgh. While working at American U in D.C.,
someone suggested linguistics, and she received her Masters at the U of South Florida, and then a Ph.D. in foreign and second language education from OSU.
Born in an eastern suburb of Pittsburgh, she's also lived/worked in Bethesda/D.C., Tampa, Columbus, New Paltz/SUNY, and Solon and Willoughby for CSU, where she's been in ESL teaching and administration for 15 years. She loves traveling and has done so extensively for work and pleasure. In addition to her exchange visits to Brazil, she lived in Madrid for a year. She also made recruiting trips to: Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, and back to Brazil. Michele's mother passed away in 1999, and her father in 2001. Her parents separated when she was just 7, and step-mother Marilyn, who we have been praying for quite a lot of late, just passed away on July 23. Her brother lives in N.W. Pittsburgh, and her sister Stephanie lives in Chagrin Falls. Her oldest niece, Blythe lives and works in Washington, D.C. and her younger niece, Brooke, is currently home in Chagrin Falls, but has plans to move out to LA in January.
Sometimes it seems like she works 8 days a week, but she likes walking in the Metroparks,
cooking (Latin, Asian, Italian, you name it), container gardening, and watching old movies,
especially musicals like the Wizard of Oz and Singing in the Rain. Her 2019 Christmas tree
theme will be based on the Wizard. (Who else chooses a different theme for their tree each
Michele joined Advent after moving to Solon in 2004. Why? She grew up Lutheran and just
looked online, found Advent very welcoming and with a vibrant adult ed program. She has since moved to Willoughby, but finds it well worth the extra miles to keep her membership here. And we are all glad she did!
Mike currently serves as Advent's Council President and Finance Committee Chairperson,
having been a member here since 1987, when he transferred from Calvary Lutheran, East
Cleveland. Mike has served in numerous capacities at Advent: a member of Council,
Treasurer, Pastoral Call Committee, Mutual Ministry Committee, Lay Assistant, and Vacation
Bible School Leader, not to mention a key softball player!
Lorraine is a member of Holy Trinity Baptist Church. At the time of their marriage in 1998, both were very involved in their churches, and felt that it was not fair to ask one another to leave their church families, so they agree to worship together at least monthly and attend special events. They are both “associate” members of each other's congregations.
Both Lorraine and Mike now are retired. Lorraine attended Parsons School of Design (New
York), and is a graduate of The Academy of Court Reporting and Cuyahoga Community
College. Lorraine spent her career in the legal system, starting out as a Legal Secretary for
East Cleveland. In 1978, she became a Court Report for the Cuyahoga County Court of
Common Pleas and was later promoted to Supervisor. Ultimately, she took a position in the
Federal Court at the U. S. District Court as an Electronic Court Recorder Operator, retiring as
Court Reporting Supervisor for the Northern District in 2004. Lorraine’s special interests, aside from being a grandmother, are art and flower gardening (Lorraine designed much of the lovely artwork in the education wing).
Mike is a graduate of Finlandia University (formerly Suomi College, Hancock MI) and Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter MN), and has a BS in Business Education. After a year of teaching in Minnesota and Ohio, Mike spent the bulk of his career in the financial community.
Mike is a CPA, working for Ernst & Young's audit staff, at Henkel-Loctite Corporation, and in
the non-profit Human Services sector, finishing his career as Fiscal Director for Community
Action Against Addiction. Mike’s special interests are his grandkids, all sports, bowling and
softball as a participant, and reading. Mike served on the Board of Trustees at Capital
University for sixteen years, and still serves as “volunteer” Treasurer for Lutheran Church of
the Covenant in Maple Hts and Finance Committee Chair and Audit Committee member for
the Northeast Ohio Synod of the ELCA.
Mike and Lorraine each have a married son from a previous marriage and three grandchildren. Lorraine’s son Walter resides in Bedford Heights with Olivia (3), and Mike’s son Jason (MIchelle), previously a member of Advent, resides in Naperville IL with children, Kalen (10) and Keira (8).
Mike and Rita have been regular visitors to Advent since last fall. They have lived in Sagamore Hills for 21 years, and most of their large extended family lives here in Northeast Ohio (they have 9 siblings between them).
Their married daughter Jennifer is an ob-gyn in Charlotte NC, and is mommy to one-year old Emilia. Son Steve lives in Tremont. Mike and Rita and family lived in Charlotte for about five years for his job, and the entire family loves Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head vacations.
The Mitches met at Mike's office in 1974. His career has mostly been in sales, and for Sherwin Williams. Rita was a stay-at-home mom but also does accounting. They have just 2 cats now, down from 5 cats plus a dog.
Their hobbies include bowling (both playing and watching) and golf (Mike and son Steve are in leagues together). They love attending Indians games and shows in the area (Ringo Starr was in Northfield recently, did you know!?)
At their former church they ran the Angel Tree ministry at Christmas, helped with Red Cross mobile blood drives, and were members of the Outreach Committee. They report that they have found Advent to be a very warm and welcoming congregation.
Lucy and Ed celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary this June. A graduate of Kutztown State U in Eastern PA, Lucy moved to Chicago with a friend who worked for the Lutheran church to teach, and met Ed in Illinois when he was a long-distance truck driver. Ed is a life-long Cleveland resident. Lucy joined Advent soon after she moved to their Richmond Road home (they have since moved to Seven Hills), but Ed was in leadership at the First Hungarian Reformed (Walton Hills), so they shared churches. While his leadership positions have now ended, you'll find him still participating in the egg-noodle making there each week.
Ed and Lucy have 6 adult grandkids. Lucy's brother lives in the Lehigh Valley of PA with his 4 children and their families.
Lucy taught math in the Warrensville schools, completed physician assistant trainging, then did some mental health counseling before teaching again, while Ed worked mostly in truck driving and transportation.
Lucy's hobbies include travel, reading, and music (they both frequent the free concerts at Baldwin Wallace). Ed's main hobby is coin collecting (he is quite the expert and has helped many a friend understand the value of those bags of coins left by ancestors!). Lucy has served on the Fellowship Committee since Pastor May. You might know her from our annual Bunco night, or as the "Cake Walk Lady" at the congregational picnics. Lucy is a pianist and member of adult choir and bell choir, and currently serves on the Word & Sacrament Board.
Ed and Lucy say they appreciate the fellowship and Christian family at Advent, and that it is well worth the drive across 480. to experience their faith within this Christian church family.
There's a place for YOU here, we do better together!