By Carolyn Marnon – “Making ‘Wayne a Great Place to Live’ is what this award is all about, and that is what we strive to be all about as we start our future in this community. Continuing to support this program is our way of recognizing the hard work and unwavering commitment the recipient and so many others everyday give to Wayne,” said Jenn Petrou and Mike Petrou, new owners of Wayne’s Dairy Queen and sponsors of the annual Diamond of the Community Award.
Lois VanStipdonk has been a Wayne resident since 1976. Prior to that, she and her husband, John, lived in Pennsylvania. John worked for Allstate and was offered a position in Detroit, so they moved and have been here contributing to the community ever since.
Since coming to Wayne, Lois has been involved in many organizations. She is currently Co-President with Trish Hampton of the Wayne Rotary; she was also President in 2000-2001. She is on the Wayne Friends of the Library Board, on the board of the Library Network Cooperative, Co-President of the Wayne Garden Club, a Literacy Corps volunteer in the Wayne/Westland schools, a choir member at St. Mary’s, Wayne Main Street volunteer, Wayne Historical Commission volunteer and a member of the Women’s National Book Association. She also belongs to an 11-member book club, The Book Divas, who meet monthly September through May.
In her free time, Lois enjoys reading mysteries and thrillers, sewing (she’s currently working on American Girl doll clothes), knitting, and sailing.
Lois and John have 3 sons, Michael (Pittsburg), John (Ft. Worth) and Brian (Seattle) and 7 grandchildren.
“It was a total surprise,” Lois stated when asked how she heard about winning the award. She thought Nancy Wojewski-Noel, Senior Services Director, was calling her about a tai-chi class. Instead, she was told she was the 2015 recipient of the award. “It feels pretty awesome. I’m kind of still amazed. I feel very grateful. I think John (her husband) should share in it because he’s been with me every step of the way. He’s a diamond also.”
Although she spearheaded the campaign to get the Little Free Libraries in Wayne, her favorite activity has been going to Honduras to work with Rotary. She helped build and furnish a school there. Rotary members buy the school supplies in Honduras to help support the country’s economy. She’s been back there 5-6 times since her first visit. The Rotary has a special relationship with the girls at Casa de la Nina, an orphanage for girls. Helping the girls has been gratifying for Lois.
Lois is most active with the Rotary. They meet once a week. The rest of her groups meet just once a month. Once school starts, she will be back to literacy tutoring at PD Graham where she meets with a group of 3-5 kids several times a week who read to her.
While in Wayne, Lois has worked at the Romulus Public Library, the Library for the Blind in Dearborn, the Dearborn Heights Library, and was Library Director at the Wayne Public Library when she retired in 2006.
The Diamond of the Community Award goes to a Wayne resident aged 70 or older who is active in their community. Previous award winners have been Phyllis Stein, Darlene Hawley, Miriam Shurlow and Wild Bill Copland.
The Wayne Commission on Aging is hosting a dinner to honor Lois at the HYPE Athletic Center, formerly known as the Wayne Rec Center, on September 15 at 6pm.