DARKE COUNTY — Yes, today is Leap Year Day, an event that only happens every four years. Those people affected by it mostly are the ones born on that day and the ones who chose to be married on that day.
Some of those people are living right here in Darke County.
“I am the youngest of five siblings born in 1952 to Thelma and Verl Lawrence,” said Susi Thompson. “I have three brothers and one sister, with one brother deceased. I married Dave Thompson on Sept. 11, 1970. Dave has been deceased since 1999. Together, we have two beautiful daughters and one great son, Wendy, Brandi and Steve. They each have blessed me with a son and a daughter.”
Thompson said, growing up, her birthday was always unique.
“I remember fun parties with friends and family,” she said. “As I get a little older, it’s just another day to be thankful for. I remember one particular birthday, my fourth (16th). We were expecting my brother to return from his tour in Vietnam. My folks went shopping with my other brother and sister-in-law and I went to airport to pick him up. Surprised Mom and Dad for my birthday! And I didn’t even get in trouble for taking dad’s car! ! Oh, the memories!”
Janis (Edsall) Combs said she will celebrate her “Sweet 16 Leap Year Birthday” this year.
“In regular birthday years, I’m joining other GHS graduates from the class of ‘70, whose birthday theme song this year is The Beatles’ ‘When I’m Sixty-Four,’” she said. “I was born in Greenville and grew up on a dairy farm north of Greenville; I have lived in Waynesville for the past 30 years. I am a music teacher for Kettering City Schools, this being my 23rd year of teaching.”
Combs said this will be a special Leap Year for her for two reasons.
“First, as I said, it will be my sweet 16 Leap Year…hard to believe that Feb. 29 has only been on the calendar 16 times in my lifetime,” she said. “Secondly, I will be able to celebrate Leap Year at school with one of my second-grade students who will celebrate her second Leap Year birthday. I can remember that when I met her as a kindergartner, it was an off year, and she was very upset that her birthday wasn’t on the calendar like all her classmates. She and I have been keeping a close watch on the calendar for the month of February this year, counting the days until we can celebrate together!”
Combs’ own person favorite Leap Year memory was when she had her 13th Leap Year birthday 12 years ago.
“That’s when I became a ‘Leap Year teenager,’” she said. “It was that year that the Dayton Daily News came to school to interview me and later ran an article on me along with my picture. Celebrity status, for sure! It still amuses me that I have friends (one in particular who is an engineer) that become befuddled trying to figure out how old I am in Leap Years during the off years, a fractional computation that is second nature to me.”
Leap Year was double whammy for Nikki and Matt Hiestand of Union City, Ohio, in 2008, when she gave birth to twins, Evan Wendall and Owen Wesley.
“They were five weeks early,” said the former Nikki Klingshirn. “I found out I was having twins the first Monday of the 2002 Darke County Fair. They’re currently in second grade at Mississinawa Valley Schools. They love hanging out with friends playing basketball, baseball and football. They also enjoy tricking their dad by telling him they are the ‘other’ twin. They will be 8 years old and Matt still cannot tell them apart!”
The boys were born at 11:24 and 11:29 a.m. respectively, at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.
Jeff Cole of Mason will be celebrating his 15th (60th) birthday on Monday. His wife, the former Carol Hosbrook, planned a surprise gathering for him over the weekend.
Son of the late Bob and Phyllis Cole and a 1975 graduate of Greenville High School, he owns his own construction business, just like his brother and as his father and grandfather did.
“He likes to tell people he’s only 14 and tells his sons he is younger than they are,” said Carol, who has been with him for 30 years. “He wants them to know he is still a little kid.”
Yes, Cole has been driving for quite awhile, even though he’s not “16” yet, and has two sons, Kyle, 35, and Alex, 27. And, he has three granddaughters.
“We all have special birthdays,” said Carol. “I was born Christmas Eve, Alex was born on D-Day and Jeff on Leap Year Day.”
A family in the Shelby County area have five born on Leap Year.
Esther Hoelscher of Newport and her twin brother, Lester Poeppelman of Minster, were born 92 years ago on Feb. 29.
This year, the family will be going to the Spur in Osgood, owned by her son, to celebrate.
“We used to go to each other’s houses and now my family has a party and we invite him,” Hoelscher said of her brother. “A lot of my cousins will go there too.”Hoelscher said she has five children, one of whom is deceased, 12 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
“Lester has also five children but I don’t know how many grandchildren,” she said.
Others in the family who have Feb. 29 birthdays are their cousin, Kenneth Luthman and his grandson as well as Kenneth’s sister’s grandson.