Greg Butler knew Jenny was the one for him when he first laid eyes on her when the pair was just 15, becoming high school sweethearts with a love for one another that would carry them through life together.
Many years, children, grandchildren and adventures later, Butler and his family, including daughters Jordan Butler and Ashton Lopez and son Tyler Butler, said they are inspired by the outpouring of love and support from community in response to the recent, untimely passing of their wife and mother.
Jenny Butler, the physical education teacher at Hedgesville Elementary School, passed away roughly one week ago due to complications related to the novel coronavirus after a breast cancer diagnosis weakened her immune system, her family confirmed.
However, that is not how they want her to be remembered, the family said.
“Jenny was diagnosed on Nov. 8 with breast cancer, and throughout this, she never feared the cancer. The only thing she feared was how her grandkids would see her once she had no hair and how her students would respond to her,” Greg said.
“She never feared the death of cancer. I know she died young, but we started dating when we were 15 years old, and we dated for five years before getting married in 1984,” Greg added. “It will be 36 years in June, of marriage with her. High school sweethearts… I knew she was the right one. I’m lucky I have a lot of memories to hold on to.”
According to Jordan, Jenny was a fighter through the entire ordeal — both her cancer and coronavirus diagnoses — and remembered her mother’s fears of her students’ reactions were unwarranted, as the students loved her just as much as she loved them.
“When she was telling her kids and her students about her diagnosis, she had on Army camo pants and a head scarf, and she asked if they noticed anything different about her. One kid asked her if she was in the Army now,” Jordan laughed, sharing the memory. “That kid is not wrong, though. She had been a soldier through all of this. She’d take a week off after chemo but go right back to 700 kids and never miss a step. So many people have shared so many memories of her. We just want people to take this seriously.”
The Butlers said what has ultimately helped them heal through this has been the love and support the Hedgesville and Berkeley County community has shown — from a number of churches reaching out with food, prayer, quilts and offers of various other help to local resident Tripp Tobin placing crosses on the family farm and in the community in honor of her memory.
“She practiced what she preaches. She was a gentle soul, she was quiet and you could tell her passion and love through her eyes,” Ashton said. “She was very humble, resilient. She was always there to listen. I worked at Hedgesville with my mom for years and the close knit family that the elementary is… the community’s outpouring love for my mom and family is overwhelming and brings our hearts so much comfort, peace and joy. Her legacy will live on through our family and the lives of her students. It’s made our community tighter.”
Even in her passing, the Butler family said Jenny was bringing people together after Hedgesville Elementary School illuminated their newly finished track in her honor, a project Jenny had been working hard to have completed for years so the community would have a safe place to walk and improve their health with kids and family.
The Butler family said seeing that project completed makes their hearts happy and is an amazing feeling to go by that track and know she was a part of that, leaving her mark on a school and students she cared for so much.
“Before she passed, we hadn’t seen her open her eyes the last couple days we visited her. Before her last couple breaths, she opened her eyes completely, and we knew she was at peace, healed and with God,” Greg said. “When Ashton was born, her eyes were wide open, like you could tell she was going into a new world and light, and that moment with Jenny reminded me of that. I know my wife saw the same thing. It was wonderful, beautiful. It gives me a lot of peace. It’s all been a process, but we know where she is, and we are at peace with that. I’m a farmer, so I’ve always been busy, and she did a wonderful job raising my three kids, it’s just amazing. They’re a good example of how their mother was. So, I’ve still got a lot of good memories and my three kids. We’ll get through this together as a family and a community.”
Greg confirmed the family had a very small, intimate funeral service for Jenny to meet quarantine regulations but has been making plans with Martinsburg- Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Executive Director Steve Catlett to have a large celebration of life in her honor, completely open to the community.
The celebration will be held from 2-5 p.m. July 26 at the barn at Poor House Farm Park.
Article courtesy of The Journal News written by Breanna Francis; photo submitted
Henry Willard was a well-known community member, a husband and father and a much-loved benefactor to many causes in the community. And with his passing two days before Christmas in 2018, that philanthropy would continue.
Thirteen area nonprofit organizations in Berkeley and Jefferson counties received $3.45 million as a result of Willard’s generosity.
“For many years, my father donated most of his annual income to causes that he cared about — many of which were local nonprofits that we should all support,” said Hank Willard, Henry’s son. “He loved this community, and I know my parents enjoyed the best years of their lives in Shepherdstown. I believe my father was inspired by the high level of sharing and commitment to mutual aid that he witnessed here.”
The Rev. GT Schramm, rector of Shepherdstown’s Trinity Episcopal Church, said the Willards were the first people he and his wife met when they came to Shepherdstown 37 years ago.
“Over the years, (Henry) served Trinity as warden and trustee. His wife, Louise, also served in a variety of capacities,” Schramm said. “Henry and Louise cared about this community very deeply and it showed, both in the way they lived, and in what they left to so many organizations after they were gone.”
Trinity received a legacy gift of $500,000 from the Willard estate. Schramm visited Willard many times throughout his final illness at his home on River Road.
“I quickly came to trust and rely on his support and counsel,” Schramm said. “He was a great friend of mine, Trinity Church and our area. I know he was delighted to leave such a legacy for us all. I remember the smile on his face when we met in front of the post office and he had told me about his will.”
A veteran of World War II, Henry served aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Franklin as a young seaman and survived one of the deadliest attacks on a U.S. warship during the war.
A fourth-generation Washingtonian and great grandson of Henry A. Willard, the founder of the city’s storied Willard Hotel, he retired to Shepherdstown in 1979, after a long career as an executive with American Security and Trust Co. (now Bank of America) and service on the board of numerous cultural and civic organizations. In 1971, he was appointed by President Richard Nixon to the District of Columbia City Council at a time when the city was transitioning to home rule and served on the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority as the early phases of the city’s new Metro system were being planned and constructed. He had a lifelong passion for U.S. railroad history and had a keen interest and knowledge of American history, particularly the Civil War.
“It was always interesting talking to Henry,” Schramm said. “He knew a lot about politics, history and business. He wasn’t bashful about sharing his opinion.”
It wasn’t uncommon to see Henry on his way to the iconic post office – where, he, like many other Shepherdstown residents, would meet and greet his friends. He and Louise also loved eating in local restaurants, usually having a table of honor where they would often be greeted by friends.
For several years in the 1990s, Louise Willard sat on the board of directors for Hospice of the Panhandle. It was service neither she, nor Henry, ever forgot.
“I still remember visiting with the Willards during our capital campaign,” Hospice CEO Margaret Cogswell said. “Louise was thrilled to see the drawings for our new inpatient facility. The Willards have provided such incredible support to our organization over the years. They were truly remarkable philanthropists – people who were visionary. We will use their money wisely to expand the mission of the organization and meet the community’s needs.”
During the agency’s campaign, the Willards donated $200,000 to the effort. Hospice received $500,000 in a legacy gift.
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation received $1 million from the Willard estate.
“For more than a decade, Henry Willard quietly supported the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation by making frequent donations to our unrestricted endowment,” EWVCF Executive Director Michael Whalton said. “We knew he was equally generous to several other nonprofit organizations in the region but never imagined that he’d leave such a remarkable legacy.” Whalton added, “Receiving this contribution during the coronavirus pandemic will help us address the needs of so many other essential Eastern Panhandle nonprofit organizations and for that we are truly grateful.”
The Willards also were huge supporters of the arts. CATF’s legacy gift was $250,000.
“On behalf of all the playwrights, theater artists and our beloved community, I want to personally acknowledge the overwhelming generosity of our dear friend Henry K. Willard II and his dedicated support for the Contemporary American Theater Festival. Henry and Louise Willard believed in the economic impact, the educational, cultural and spiritual power of the arts,” CATF Founding Director Ed Herendeen. “Our lives are better today because of their extraordinary generosity and their love for our community. I am forever grateful for their friendship.”
The Historic Elwood Cemetery also received a $250,000 bequest, as did Panhandle Home Health.
“The officers and members of the Elmwood Cemetery Board greatly appreciate the generous donation made to our organization by Mr. Willard,” said Board President Sam Billmyer. ”It is through gifts like his that allow the Elmwood Board to continue the work of maintaining and preserving the cemetery grounds.”
Panhandle Home Health Executive Director Lisa Bivens called the Willards “wonderful people.”
“We are grateful for Mr. Willard’s generosity, his trust, and most importantly, his commitment to Panhandle Home Health’s mission,” Bivens added.
Shepherdstown Public Library Board President Terrence Kramer said the Willard family stands out for its longstanding and sustained engagement, as well as its interest in stewardship, which has helped shape the library’s commitment to service in the community. The library’s legacy gift was for $100,000.
“We were humbled and grateful to receive the Willard bequest to the library,” Kramer said. “This generous bequest is not just for the library, it is for everyone who reads, dreams and imagines. Those who are always in search of something more. We will do incredible things with it.”
Also receiving a generous $100,000 bequest was the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle.
“The root of the word philanthropy means a love of mankind,” United Way Director Penny Porter. “What an incredible legacy Mr. Willard leaves in our community as a philanthropist, sharing his love of mankind with such generosity. We are honored to use his gift to United Way to improve our community. His gift will allow us to have an impact on thousands of lives – to make a difference for so many men, women and children who call the Eastern Panhandle home.”
Donna Bertazonni, president of the Historic Shepherdstown Commission, said the commission will use its $50,000 bequest to “fulfill our mission of telling the story of Shepherdstown by giving us the opportunity to add artifacts to the collection of our museum. It will also help us maintain the historic Entler building complex, which houses the museum, offices and the Rumsey boathouse.”
“We are sincerely grateful to Mr. Willard and his heartfelt gifts throughout his life to Good Shepherd Caregivers and all of the community. His generosity lives on, enabling us to rise above economic hardship and unforeseen times. Mr. Willard is the purest example of ‘Neighbors Helping Neighbors,’” said Paula Marrone-Reese, executive director of the caregivers organization, which received $100,000 from the Willard estate.
Tthe board of directors of the Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County also expressed gratitude for Willard’s $50,000 estate gift.
“He loved animals and had a caring understanding of the needs for homeless and neglected dogs and cats,” said Ann Trumble, president of the AWS. “We are moved by his compassion for not only us, but for so many of the local non-profits that make our community such a wonderful place to live.”
Article courtesy of The Journal Times; photo submitted
Last year, Julie Shallis got the news nobody wants to hear: the diagnosis came back as cancer.
With things going as well as they can given the stage 2b, HER2 positive breast cancer, Shallis remained working and continued to be strong as a wife and mother of four. While COVID-19 has made things more difficult, she remains strong and focused on the positives in life.
"I was diagnosed in September with an aggressive form of breast cancer. They referred me out to Mercy in Baltimore," Shallis said. "I had six rounds of chemo there with a cocktail that was not fun. The side effects were a lot to deal with. As a mother of four, my goal was to protect them as much as possible while fighting on my own."
In the home stretch of recovering from a mastectomy and treatment, the coronavirus outbreak added another level of stress for Shallis and her family.
The virus outbreak added one wrench after another from being told not to continue working her job at the VA hospital to having to go into the hospital for treatment alone, a building already a little risky for her with a compromised immune system. Shallis continues treatment throughout the outbreak.
"Before, I could have someone sit with me during treatment," she said. "The whole overall feel of everything is different. Fighting cancer is daily. It's a constant struggle, and when you add coronavirus, it adds a whole level of worry. It makes you much more uneasy with a compromised immune system. You catch something like that, it can be deadly.
"I'm very thankful that when I had my initial treatments, I was not alone. Once it started and had to go in by myself, it was totally different. Sometimes having that extra support next to you makes a world of difference. It's new to everyone and scary to everyone, but when you add a compromised immune system, it adds to it."
Shallis' father still drives her for every trip to Baltimore and sits in the parking lot while he waits for his daughter to finish treatment.
"God bless him. That's not fun for him. We're talking hours," Shallis said. "Luckily, I haven't done it all alone. Those are the silver linings."
Still through every scary moment, eerie feeling and minute of uncertainty, Shallis has remained focused on her family and being dedicated to being the best mom and wife she can be.
"They say attitude is half the battle," she said, adding the goal from day one has been to fight and find the silver lining. "It's been interesting to say the least. Each time I finish is a step in the process."
Shallis has made friends throughout her treatment, realized it was time to slow down in life and appreciate the small things and spent more time with her family, always finding some sort of positive.
"Homeschooling is no fun, but we are able to spend time with family," she laughed.
Even just something as simple as looking at a photo from her daughter's birthday, a photoshoot that was supposed to be just for her but in which Shallis was able to slip in a family portrait given the circumstances, gives her a smile and a little happiness during everything.
"That's a picture of us along this road," she said. "My focus had been (from the start): I was going to fight and beat this. I was going to prove to myself and my kids that if you put your mind to something, you'll make it happen."
Shallis, though, had a good example of what it means to find strength during the battle — her mother being a cancer survivor herself.
"I watched her fight it twice," Shallis said. "With the support system I have, I remain strong."
It's a constant circle of Shallis finding strength in her family and them finding strength in the example she sets every day.
"To some degree, that does give me strength, knowing people can feed off that," she said.
Shallis' friend created a GoFundMe for Shallis and her family that has been immensely helpful for medical bills, something Shallis said she has been very grateful for. The GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/help-julie-tackle-breast-cancer.
Article courtesy of The Journal Times written by Jessica Wilt; photo submitted
Shepherd University has expanded its production of safety shields and masks to include a copyrighted N95 design that exceeds federal standards created by Kay Dartt, 3D fabrication manager, and Chase Molden, theater technical director, which the West Virginia National Guard can mass produce using silicone molds.
While the design for the mask can be 3D printed in about five hours, Dartt said using molds allows production of up to 70 or 100 masks per hour, depending on how many molds and equipment are available. Molden and Dartt recently took 14 mask molds and six filter molds to the National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg and provided training on how to make the masks.
“The molds that the National Guard is currently using are the fifth version that I have made in the last month,” Molden said. “Each one started with a 3D printed version that was then cleaned and smoothed. After each mold was made, Kay and I would look at the cast product and find ways to slightly adjust the design to make it more efficient, a new version would be drafted and 3D printed by Kay and I would make a new mold.”
“Because the molds are made of silicone, they’re every stretchable,” Dartt said. “We chose that material for ease of use and ease of production. Theoretically these molds can travel across the state, you don’t need any special material or machines to produce the masks, and the average person can be trained to use this process.”
Dartt said they began working with a mask design made of more rigid plastic. As they adjusted, they started using a material that is more flexible, so the new N95 mask is rigid where it holds the filter, but more flexible where it meets a person’s face.
“We’re excited that the National Guard verified that our masks exceed current N95 standards,” Dartt said. “Being able to make a quality product is exciting. Chase and I worked at a team figuring out better manufacturing processes, material choices, and design changes to make it better.”
Molden said he and Dartt were also trying to find a way to produce as many masks as possible quickly and consistently while keeping the process from being so hard that it limits who can help during the mass production stage.
“After working with the 167th Airlift Wing airmen, I am proud to say we are making great strides,” Molden said. “I am humbled to have been able to be a part of this project. When I first got involved I had no idea it would lead to something on this large of a scale and I am constantly in awe of how many people are working so hard for the common good, be it for this particular project or the hundreds of other makers out in the world right now doing their part to make face shields and cloth masks to protect people they will never know or meet.”
Shepherd continues to 3D print face shields by request for community organizations. Dartt said so far, more than 1,800 face shields and more than 120 N95 have been made at Shepherd.
Organizations wishing to request face shields and anyone interested in donating to the cause can visit https://www.shepherd.edu/covid-19/community-ppe-request.
Article courtesy of The Journal Times; photo submitted
As COVID-19 took the state by storm, St. James the Greater Roman Catholic Church of Charles Town prepared itself to help the less fortunate. What began as grocery and handmade mask deliveries has grown to include a fun twist on lending a helping hand—one holding Krumpe’s Do-Nuts and Joan & Joe Coffee.
Under the name of the church’s outreach program, a coalition of church youth began making masks and delivering groceries to those considered to be more susceptible to the virus.
Grace Guiney, a Loudon County school teacher and the coordinator for the St. Roch Outreach, explained what prompted the creation of the program.
“St. Roch is the patron saint of infectious diseases,” Guiney said. “We started the ministry under the direction of our deacon, Deacon Dave Galvin, right when the pandemic started. The Thursday before schools closed, he was ready to go with the plan of having a grocery delivery for older people or people at risk.”
With an abundance of food donations from local businesses, the St. Roch Outreach provided more than $100 worth of food to each of the 260 families it has served since the outreach began.
“In addition to delivering to older people who can’t go out, we’re also delivering groceries to low-income families or families affected by job loss with the virus every other week,” Guiney said.
Guiney found that when delivering the groceries, many individuals would leave small donations. She then formulated the idea to create a specific fund for all donations received.
The youth of St. Roch Outreach decided to dedicate their donations to memorialize a mosaic of Pier Giorgio Frassati, a young Italian activist and humanitarian whose work quietly helped hundreds of the poor and sick individuals during his short life.
“The memorialized mosaics are put up one at a time as the money is raised, and they really make the church beautiful,” Guiney said. “Usually a person, family or organization will have a saint in mind who means something to them, and we were inspired by the Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.”
To kick-start this funding, St. Roch Outreach partnered with the iconic Hagerstown staple, Krumpe’s Do-Nuts, and local coffee shop Joan & Joe Coffee.
Dynamic Do-Nuts Delivery, an all-in-one, pick-me-up delivery service, will offer four types of donuts, costing $10 per dozen, and a 96-ounce cold brew coffee, costing $20. By Wednesday of each week, interested individuals can place their orders to receive them on Friday at the St. James’ parking lot or for Jefferson County residents, right to their door.
The first order is set to be delivered today.
“This week, delivery is just in Jefferson County, but the deacon has high hopes that we’ll also be able to deliver to Martinsburg if we can get enough volunteer drivers,” Guiney said.
Guiney assured that Dynamic Do-Nuts Delivery will still maintain all necessary health and well-being precautions during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We don’t want people in our area to think that St. James or the youth of our parish are ignoring the pandemic, or that we’re just doing this really fun thing while all this is going on,” Guiney said. “It’s more like we’re adding on to what we’re already doing. We’re bringing joy into the crisis, but we’re also working really hard to help the people who are in need now.”
According to Guiney, many of the church’s community projects and partnerships have been led by Galvin.
“We are very inspired by our deacon,” Guiney said. “He has been leading us in all types of great activities like this since we were really young. There have been other people who have joined in at various stages of their youth, and the list of programs like this that he’s usually in charge of is endless.”
Because of the wide variety St. James’ offers the community, Guiney encourages the public to support the outreach in any way possible.
“We would love for people to donate to our mosaic, but we’d also really love for people to donate to our St. Roch Outreach,” Guiney said. “The money from that is going to so many different programs.”
Donation and volunteer opportunities, as well as grocery and mask delivery requests can be found at sites.google.com/view/saintroch.
Online ordering information for the Dynamic Do-Nuts Delivery can be found at sites.google.com/prod/view/DynamicDonuts.
Article courtesy of The Journal Times, written by Mikayla Hamrick; photo submitted