By KEVIN KELLEY
In what was seen by many as an inevitability for their work organizing much of the city’s bicentennial celebration in 2011, Dave Pfister and Lysa Stanton were named Mr. and Mrs. Westlake by the Westlake Town Criers.
The announcement was made by Town Crier President John Sobolewski at Crocker Park’s holiday tree lighting ceremony Nov. 17.
Stanton, 49, was elected president of the Westlake Historical Society as a write-in candidate in 2010 and re-elected earlier this year. Pfister, 51, is a board member and director of membership. Among other events held to celebrate the city’s bicentennial, the couple helped plan a historical tour of Evergreen Cemetery, the bell ringing at the Clague Park Founders Walk dedication and the installation of a historical marker honoring Leverett Johnson, considered Westlake’s founder. Pfister and Stanton often donned 19th-century clothing to portray members of the historic Clague family throughout the year.
Despite their heavy involvement in the community’s bicentennial celebration, Stanton said she didn’t see their getting the “Mr. and Mrs.” title as inevitable.
“We didn’t know what the criteria was,” she told West Life, adding that she thought maybe they’d have to volunteer for 25 years before being recognized.
Not that volunteering for a quarter of a century would be a bad thing to Stanton.
“My mom always said, “Give back to the community in which you’re from and in which you live,’” said Stanton, who previously worked as a special education teacher and now runs an online company —skyshoreprints.com — that sells sports memorabilia.
A native of Blue Ash, a suburb of Cincinnati, Stanton would never have even heard of Westlake had it not been for Pfister, and a quirk of fate.
The two met a decade ago through an online dating service.
“He had been on the site a year. I was on it 15 minutes,” she recalled. Stanton had accidentally clicked on Cleveland instead of Cincinnati when selecting regions for possible matches.
When two married in 2003, Stanton kept her maiden name. They moved to Westlake at Stanton’s insistence. “The community sounded perfect,” she explained. Pfister, who grew up in Parma and Olmsted Falls, had been living in Strongsville.
The couple have no kids but own three “lovely dogs” who often show up at historical society events, such as the annual antique sale.
While Stanton is best-known for her work with the historical society, the first place she volunteered in the city was Westlake Porter Public Library, where she still greets patrons from the reception desk.
The couple also volunteer with the Westshore Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, which trains residents in disaster response skills. The two recently volunteered with other CERT members at a Red Cross shelter set up in Lakewood to assist residents who lost electrical power after Superstorm Sandy hit.
But it’s the historical society that is their biggest love.
“We both believe strongly that you have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going,” Pfister said of their mutual love of history.
He noted how students who tour the organization’s Clague House Museum gradually come to understand how different their lives would be had they lived in the 19th century.
“It helps them to realize all they have here in Westlake,” said Pfister, who works as a regional sales manager for Simplex Inc. “Westlake is a wonderful community.”
An award Pfister and Stanton received a year ago from the city’s Service Department noted each had volunteered 500 hours in bicentennial-related activities. While acknowledging that the couple gave a lot of time to the community in 2011, Pfister said volunteers benefit from giving their time as well. Many deserving organizations need individuals to give their time and talent, not just money, he added.
“We need to stop sitting on our hands and get out there and make a difference,” Pfister said. “That’s what made this country great.”
The two show no signs of discontinuing their volunteer work. The latest organization to benefit from their involvement is the Clague Playhouse, where Pfister serves as secretary on the executive board and Stanton is community outreach coordinator.
At the historical society, Stanton said the near-term goals are creating a smartphone app for the organization and erecting an Ohio Historical Society marker recognizing the Clague family’s contributions to the community.