By Kevin Kelley
Herman “Harry” Witzke was a specially invited guest of Mayor Eileen Patton at her annual State of the City address before the Fairview Park Chamber of Commerce March 13 at the Gemini Center, and for good reason. The 89-year-old donated $13,627 to the city’s senior center.
Witzke’s gift was used to pay for the purchase of a transportation van, a new ice machine and the renovation of 150 chairs.
“I’d like to thank you for all that you do, Harry,” Patton said as she introduced Witzke during her speech.
Witzke comes to the center every weekday, said Regina Sillasen, director of Fairview Park’s Senior Life Office.
“It’s his home away from home,” Sillasen said, noting that he’s been a regular for at least a decade. Witzke plays bingo, participates in exercise classes, uses the center’s computers to read his e-mail, or just hangs out, Sillasen told West Life. He also regularly sells eggs collected from his daughter’s farm at a modest price to fellow members, she said.
“The senior center is important to me because it helps make up my day,” Witzke told West Life. “It’s nice to be around so many good people.”
Witzke’s gift was the largest ever to the senior center by a living member, Sillasen said.
The city’s Senior Advisory Council, through its gift shop sales and fundraisers, raises money for needed items at the center, located behind Fairview Park City Hall. In the past year, the council purchased a new senior center sign, an automatic defribulator unit and new audio visual equipment, all at no cost to the city of its taxpayers, Patton noted.
Not quite 14 years old, the city’s senior center is one of the best of its kind in Cuyahoga County, Patton said. And it still looks brand new, the mayor added.
“The senior center is filled daily with many caring, fun-loving seniors who participate in the many vital services that help them to maintain their well-being and their independence which is an important part in the quality of their life,” Patton said.