GREENVILLE — Nola Coning said it has been a little harder to carry on as secretary of both the Farm and Garden Youth and Fruit departments in the basement of the Coliseum this year without her husband, Paul, but she has managed with a lot of help from family and friends.
“I wasn’t going to camp out here this year, but our kids bought me a camping spot,” said Coning, who became a widow on March 24. “So, my 90-year-old sister, Vera Marshall, is camping with me, and I’m 85. Drew Meadows set the camper up for me. Paul did all of that. I didn’t know how to put up an antenna for the TV and so many other things. I knew Drew would help me.”
Nola, who plans to sell the camper after this year to her nephew’s son, said a lot of the paperwork that goes with the secretarial job of the departments she oversees was done at home before the fair started. Daughter Diane put it on the computer.
“Last year it was decided we would have an Ohio State theme this year,” Coning said. “Paul loved Ohio State. So, that’s what we did.“
She said what surprised her were that some of the fair-goers hadn’t known Paul had died.
“When I told them, they’d be so shocked,” she said. “He had had open heart surgery and everything seemed fine until he had gotten a urinary tract infection, which took over like wildfire.”
Among other people who have been a big help to her are Russ and Judy Bennett.
“They have been dear friends through all of this,” she said. “My church family has been good to me. Our pastor, Jim Fulton, was not only our pastor but Paul’s friend.”
She was grateful for the other department managers in the basement of the Coliseum — Melissa, Vickie and Lois — for the memorial board they hung in Paul’s honor for all fair-goers to see as they passed through the basement of the Coliseum.
She said this year’s vegetable displays were down because of all the rain in the spring. However, she said the other entries were about even with other years.
“To look at that was hard at first,” said Coning, who said she feels her husband’s spirit at home and believes his spirit was at the fairgrounds this week. “When I’m home, I will do something and say, ‘Paul why aren’t you helping me?’”
She went on, “We would have been married 68 years in June and we missed our 70th anniversary by two years, and our goal was to work for the fair board for 40 years and we missed that by two years. I have not made a decision about doing this again next year. This is a very easy department, the easiest department in here, but I don’t know. You can’t let the bad get you down. You have to remember the happy times. I’m so fortunate for such happy times.”
Nola said she did put out a little garden this year, but wasn’t able to keep up with Paul’s little orchard and she apologized for that.
Contact Staff Writer Linda Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (937)569-4315 ext. 1749. Read more news, features and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.