History and hurricane relief earn annual Bay Village honors

Bay Village’s 2018 Citizen of the Year, Cathy Flament. Photo by Tara Wendell

When Eric and Cynthia Eakin accepted their award for Citizens of the Year in 2015, Eric mused: “There are residents, and then there are citizens.” It’s worth repeating years later because it rings true. Green card status aside, residents are the inhabitants of a place that make it a city; citizens are those that make it a community. And Bay Village is a city full of citizens.

Each year, the Bay Village Community Council is tasked with sorting through the nominations of individuals whose peers have felt are worthy of recognition. The judges, a committee of BVCC members that serve as representatives of the city’s civic organizations, do not take the award lightly.

Each candidate is examined on the merits of their service to the community, without monetary reward, to find the one that best exemplifies the definition of Citizen of the Year.

This year, the honor goes to Catherine Burke Flament, whose commitment to preserving the history of Bay Village will be appreciated for generations to come. Cathy is serving her second term as president of the Bay Village Historical Society, after two years as vice president. During this time, her nominator said, membership in the organization has grown and programming has improved.

Cathy volunteers to chair the committee for Destination Bay, a day of community events around the city, while also organizing sponsorships for the historical society’s Cahoon in June craft and antique show. She also spearheaded projects to obtain an Ohio Historical Marker for Lakeside Cemetery and install new fencing.

“Volunteering is a win-win,” Cathy said. “I feel it is a tremendous opportunity to share your talents to benefit others, a heartwarming experience in itself, which gives me a true sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. A wonderful bonus that I love are the connections and friendships you form along the way.”

Cathy has lived in Bay Village for 41 years with her husband, Paul, raising three daughters, Jen, Shannon and Laura. She taught for 36 years in the North Olmsted school district and works at Michael’s in Avon.

Her most recognizable contribution to the preservation of Bay Village history is the comprehensive catalog of burials at Lakeside Cemetery, “Retracing Footsteps.” The project, which took a decade to complete, was spurred by a Girl Scout patch she created to honor local history, one of many activities she initiated as a troop leader for 12 years.

In doing research for the patch project, Cathy became aware of the many interesting stories about the lives of the founding families buried in Lakeside that were scattered in various archives far and wide. She took innumerable trips to the Western Reserve Historical Society, the Ohio Historical Society and the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The result is a 360-page catalog of names, dates, newspaper snippets, photographs and vital records that tells the stories of Bay’s ancestors.

“Genealogy has been a passion of mine for years,” Cathy said. “One thing I’ve learned is that if you want to understand what life was like for your ancestors, local history is the key. The historical society has been the perfect fit for me to share my strengths to help preserve glimpses of the past in a wide variety of ways – not only for those whose ancestors resided in the area, but for the entire community.”

As president of the historical society, Cathy led the effort to renovate the second floor of the Osborn Learning Center, which suffered from holes in the walls, crumbling ceilings and missing baseboards. Her next project is to digitize museum records using the PastPerfect archival software, with help from a Bay Village Foundation grant.

The Project of the Year was an easy one for the judges to select. The Community Yard Sale, organized by Annie Nock last October, was born out of a desire to help victims of the hurricanes that struck Texas, Florida and the Caribbean. And while the impressive sum of $10,000 was sent south, the benefits reaped by the community of Bay Village can’t be measured in dollars.

The effort was supported by hundreds of residents who donated items, volunteered their time, and shopped the sale. The selection committee noted that it brought residents from all walks of life together for a good cause, and promoted intergenerational connections.

“By rallying all of Bay Village to not only donate beautiful items but also organize and sell these back to the public in yard-style fashion, Annie supported the human spirit of giving in the most beautiful and powerful way,” read one of the nominations.

Items left over from the sale were donated to worthy causes throughout the region, including the Village Bicycle Cooperative, Bay Village Library, Westside Catholic Center, Habitat for Humanity and the City Mission.

On learning her project had received the award, Annie Nock stayed true to her humble nature. “This isn’t why I did it and I don’t want all the accolades. I want to share it with everyone,” Annie said. “It was a miraculous experience.”

The community will be invited to celebrate with Annie and Cathy at a reception this spring. Details will be announced as plans are finalized.

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Volume 10, Issue 3, Posted 10:19 AM, 02.06.2018