When you’re celebrating this great nation’s independence this week, remember one person who took advantage of our rights as citizens of the United States to make Sylvania a better place. She was the late Catherine Frye, who died in 1997 at the age of 82.
Catherine Frye, one of the founders of Olander Park, is an inspiration and a woman and human being we should all aspire to. When I look at all she did as a mother, grandmother, worker, and activist, I really don’t know how she found the time.
When something was amiss in Sylvania, Catherine Frye took it upon herself to change it. When she found the school bus route to be unsafe for the area’s children, she complained to the board. I was told that she was told in rhetorical fashion, that if she didn’t like it, she should come up with something better. Mrs. Frye took the challenge and did.
She planted the seeds of a park system in Sylvania. She even started a Fourth of July celebration, one of the first, I’m told by those who loved and knew her well. She cared for the elderly. She cared for the children.
I saw pictures of her. She had to be at least 70 wearing a whimsical Easter hat, along with a big smile, at the Senior Center. I believe it was her idea to have the residents create the fanciful headpieces.
She was involved in the Cub Scouts, and her grandchildren said they could always rely on her for anything, even getting tools in the middle of the night to fix up a pickup truck.
Olander Park recently dedicated a future PlayScape on her behalf. I covered the event as a reporter and hearing the stories about her, I honestly had to stop myself from crying. There aren’t many people that I hear about in the world, and I’ve traveled quite a bit of it, that I wished I had met. She is one of those people that you want on your side, who would fight for a friend, and for her hometown.
I asked her relatives, where did she get the energy? How did she find the spark to keep going, while working a full-time job? I was told that she prioritized her life: God, family, friends, community.
So for all the dreamers in Sylvania, no matter how big or small your dream, on this Fourth of July remember one dreamer who used her freedom to speak, believe and create in the pursuit of happiness of home, community, and others, Catherine Frye.