September 21, 2020

WAYNESVILLE, Ohio - Connie Schear was never alone during a long winter spent recovering from the accident that claimed the life of her husband Lonnie. Her family and friends were at her side again to help honor "Mr. Waynesville" at the first Lonnie Schear Memorial Blood Drive held Sept. 19 at the Waynesville Masonic Temple.

Lonnie was known as "Mr. Waynesville" for his long career as vice president of the Waynesville LCNB National Bank and his leadership in countless community projects, including chairing Waynesville's annual Ohio Sauerkraut Festival.

Lonnie and Connie were both dedicated blood donors and Waynesville blood drive coordinator Roger Leisure proposed dedicating the Sept. 19 community blood drive in Lonnie's memory.

Connie was seriously injured in the Jan. 18 car accident and spent weeks in the hospital. She received blood transfusions and is temporarily deferred from donating. She visited the blood drive Saturday while her daughter Nikki Deters donated in Lonnie's memory.

"It was wonderful that you guys did this," said Connie, overwhelmed at times by emotion. "It's just hard. It was very, very nice. Roger is a super, super guy."

Roger made his 124th lifetime donation Saturday to help the blood drive total 39 donors and 33 donations for 100% of collection goal.

Donating side-by-side at the blood drive were friends Sue Corwin and Tammy Smith. Sue graduated from Waynesville High in 1967 with Lonnie, and Tammy grew up with Nikki.  They were both part of the "Team Lonnie" support group for Connie.

"That's what we called ourselves," said Sue. "There were 10 of us doing constant vigil for her all the time at the hospital for at least three weeks, and rehab at Quaker Heights for probably a month."

"I haven't given blood in a while, but it was for Connie," said Tammy. "Connie was my babysitter when I was six weeks old! Nikki and I are the same age and best friends."

They agreed the nickname "Mr. Waynesville" fit Lonnie perfectly because of the time and energy he devoted to community service.  "There were things I didn't even know until his memorial," said Sue.

"He was involved with the fair for 40 years," said Tammy. "He would stay to the very end, to make sure to see every student and their animal."

"He was treasurer of the Waynesville High Alumni Association," said Sue, noting that as a banker Lonnie was always asked to help with finances. "Waynesville is one of the only places in the country that has a continued alumni celebration that brings together all graduates every year."

His community service included 37 lifetime blood donations, while Connie has 91 lifetime donations. Lonnie was a volunteer firefighter, and Connie said the entire department would travel to the Dayton Community Blood Center to donate.

"He volunteered with the rescue squad and the fire department for more than 30 years," said Connie. "He worked in town and a lot of time made runs with a suit and tie on. Once when the firehouse was on fire, Lonnie was running down the street in his suit and tie to get the truck out before it burned up."

The memories bring smiles and tears. "This is fine," said Connie. "It's good that I'm crying instead of holding it in. It's rough. We were married almost 48 years."

"It was devastating," Sue said. "It still is. Not only for us that were so close emotionally with Lonnie, it is for the entire community."

LCNB has donated $25,000 to launch a scholarship foundation in Lonnie's honor. His friends believe a call to giving blood as a community service is another fitting legacy for "Mr. Waynesville."

"I don't even remember the first 10 days," Connie said. "I have no recollection. I pulled through. I just wish Lonnie had too. He was going to retire in 12 days and had all these things planned we were going to do."