Friday, August 16, 2013

A Kind and Generous Man

This essay was written in May, 2007
In past issues, I have occasionally listed events for a fairly new museum in Newark, Ohio. The museum is called, The Works. The Works consists of 3 sections: Art Works Gallery, Glass Works and Museum Works. The Art Works Gallery shows and sells the art of locally and nationally known artists. They, also, offer classes, workshops and events designed to inspire the artistic creativity of students, young and old. The Glass Works focuses on glass blowing, exhibiting beautiful pieces of blown glass, and offering classes on glass blowing for all ages. You can see the process from beginning to end and learn about the the furnace, the “glory hole,” blowpipes, jacks, annealers and more, in addition to hands-on opportunities. The Museum Works features a renovated interurban car, an operating factory, historical landmarks of Licking County and Ohio, hands-on science labs and many other exhibits.

The Works offers special programs and classes for homeschoolers every Friday, as well as activities and events for the entire family. It is a very nice and growing museum. The Works is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.

Now, I want to tell you a special story about the man who almost single-handedly brought this museum into existence.

My brother, Gene, happens to live in Newark. For most of his life, he has worked in the trucking industry, first as a driver, then a terminal manager, a safety supervisor, and finally as an owner of his own trucking company. One person has been especially instrumental in Gene's life as a mentor and friend. That man is Howard LeFevre, who, also, happens to be the man who had the idea to start this great museum. Mr. LeFevre has spent much of his life helping his friends, and contributing to the community in which he lives. He is the person primarily responsible for the opening of a branch of Ohio State University in Newark, and also, the Central Ohio Technical College.

A few years ago, when my brother's wife, Sue, became ill with cancer, he decided to sell his trucking company.  Sue, had been his business partner and it would be too difficult to continue the business without her help. Sue died soon after the business was sold, and good friend, Howard LeFevre asked Gene to come to work for him at his trucking company. He told Gene he could work as much or as little as he liked. In the next few years, Gene developed cancer, and had to have surgery and months of treatments. Howard kept Gene's job open, and told him to do whatever he felt up to doing. When Gene recovered, his daughter-in-law, Donna, developed cancer, and Gene spent a lot of time traveling between Newark and Florida, to visit Donna and his son, Kevin. Howard said, “Don't worry. Work when you can.”

Last fall, Donna passed away, and Gene again made numerous trips to Florida to help his son, Kevin, deal with the loss of his wife. Howard said, “Take as much time as you need.” About a month ago, Gene learned that his cancer had returned, and the doctor's prognosis was not good. One of the first people Gene went to see was Howard. With tears in his eyes, Mr. LeFevre asked only what he could do to help.

Now here's something about Howard LeFevre that you may be surprised to learn. He's 99 years old! He still goes to work at his trucking company every day. He drives his own car there. He visits the museum, goes to meetings at the many companies with which he is involved, and he is still looking for ways to make Newark a great place for families and learning. He will celebrate his 100th birthday on May 31. Gene is hoping to be there to celebrate with him, because Howard is one of the best friends anyone could ever have.

If you ever visit Newark, Ohio, stop by Howard LeFevre's museum, The Works. You'll be glad you did, and so will Howard. He built it for families that care about learning.

The Works, 55 South First St., Newark. Phone: 740.349.9277
Museum hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10 am - 6 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.

My brother, Gene, died June 3, 2007.  Gene was not able to attend Howard’s 100th birthday party, but Gene’s two oldest sons, Michael and Kevin went to represent him.  

Howard LeFevre died on Monday, June 30, 2008.  You can see Howard’s picture here.  Read about Howard’s life and philanthropy here.

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