Canfield Fair's 'outstanding families' are recognized for years of community involvement.
By ROSA MERCADO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
CANFIELD -- The Phillipses and the Ewings are two couples who appreciate the value of hard work.
They're from the generation that gave birth to the baby boomers.
But the changes of time don't slow them down: They're as active as ever.This year the Canfield Fair is honoring Bill and Susan Phillips and Donald and Virginia Ewing as "Mahoning County's Outstanding Families."
Ohio State University's Mahoning County Extension Office and the Mahoning County Extension Advisory Committee have sponsored and selected families every year since 1963. The honorees are recognized not only for their involvement with the fair, but for community service.
Bill Phillips' involvement with the fair goes back to the 1930s, when he was a member of the Wayne County 4-H Club. He has witnessed the coming and going of several generations of participants.
"It's nice to see young people in particular that have grown up, matured and found their place in society," he said.
Phillips worked as an Ohio State University extension agent for 40 years before retiring in 1989. He's been volunteering at the fair ever since.
In addition to his agricultural involvement, Phillips was in the Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946. He also attended Western Kentucky State Teacher's College and OSU, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1948 and a master's degree in 1967.
Sharing the honor
Despite the numerous community, church and fraternal organizations he belongs to, Phillips remains humble about being recognized by the fair.
"When you talk about an 'outstanding family,' that's sort of a misnomer because there are tens of thousands of families in the Mahoning County that are involved in all kinds of community activities," Phillips said. "But in any event, I consider it a distinct honor."
His wife, Susan, a member of the Greenford Busy Bees 4-H club for many years, is happy for her husband more than for herself.
"I think it's real nice, especially for Bill because he's been around the fair for so many years," she said. "I'm happy he's getting recognized for that."
Susan Phillips was raised on the Less Farm in Green Township, where her family grew sweet corn and apples. She said that after retiring from SBC/Ameritech, where she worked for 30 years, she wanted to devote herself to community service.
"I have fun, but I try to work and volunteer for good causes," Mrs. Phillips said. "I enjoy traveling to Haiti, or to Appalachia to do work, or just going to Florida to work at the [Giant Eagle] LPGA or something like that."
The Canfield couple said that since they retired, they have more time to do volunteer work.
For Donald C. Ewing, being involved means everything to him. He said that although it's a lot of work, it's worth it.
What 4-H meant
"It's helped me through life," said the 47-year 4-H adviser. He joined a 4-H club at 12 after moving with his family to a farm on the corner of Turner and Kirk roads in Austintown.
"In school I was very shy, so 4-H helped me become more open, and become more active."
Ewing also was an adviser for the Austintown Farmers Club, which was one of the first to become coed.
After spending two years in the Army, and working at Witmer's, a John Deere dealership, for 27 years, he retired.
He now volunteers with activities like the Pop Shop, a dinerlike attraction at the fair.
His wife, Virginia, said she goes along with her husband and supports his work.
Born and reared in Girard, she worked as a steam presser at Weatherbee Coat factory in Youngstown for 22 years. She's spent the last 13 years at Mill Creek Dry Cleaners and said she's going to retire next year.
The Youngstown couple are members of Canfield United Methodist Church, where Mr. Ewing is president of the adult fellowship group.
Ewing said that meeting people is what he enjoys about his work.
"It gets into your blood, and there's really no explanations," he said. "It's just something you like to do."