Celebrating life’s successes

One room school by Bruce Stambaugh
A one room school in Holmes County, Ohio.

By Bruce Stambaugh

When a former student of mine asked for my mailing address, I was more than a little curious.

Having been a school principal for 21 years, being told by a former student to watch the mail for a package could be potentially alarming. But I knew Wilma, and had seen her joyous posts on Facebook.

I wasn’t concerned in the least. But, like I said, I was curious.

A couple of days later a puffy brown envelope arrived in the mail. Inside was a laminated badge that was my ticket to this gregarious woman’s 40th birthday party. I was impressed and pleased to be included until I saw the date.

My wife and I had a potential conflict that evening. Wilma said she was sorry to hear that because the evening was really more to celebrate the top 20 people who had influenced her life.

The top 20? This put the gathering in an entirely different light. How could I not go? I was humbled and a bit surprised to say the least, given the number of people Wilma must have known in her lifetime. I had no idea I had had that kind of influence on this successful, professional, vibrant woman. Of course we rearranged our schedule and made the celebration a priority.

After the party’s uncomplicated meal, Wilma went one-by-one around the room. She shared with those in attendance specifically how each person had impacted her life.

When my turn came, Wilma related to the group that as her principal I had visited her parents four different times encouraging them to send her on to high school. I had no recollection of any of the visits. Maybe I should run for President.

Wilma proceeded to say that I was the only person to encourage her to extend her education, and she would never forget it. For once in my life, I hardly knew what to say.

Following her parent’s wishes, Wilma did not attend high school. But later she did get her GED and her bachelor’s degree and is now working on a graduate degree in clinical psychology. What a success story. Maybe I’ll be her first patient.

This grateful woman detailed how others had energized her life when she needed it the most. Her lavish, infectious laughter and joy permeated the party.

Now, Wilma had inspired me. I mentally listed the 20 most influential people in my own life. There had been so many who had helped me along life’s way. I had a hard time narrowing it down.

A handful of people on my list were former teachers and professors, too. Several of them had already left this earthly realm.

There are those for whom I still have time to thank. I have committed to personally commend them individually for the positive role they have played in my life. It will be fun to share the good news.

Following Wilma’s lovely example, I encourage you to do the same. Who are the top 20 most influential people in your life? Have you told them? If not, maybe a celebration is in order. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate dinner party. It could be something simple, like a personal note or even an email.

Whatever method you choose, take time to express yourself to those who have swayed your life for the good. Be yourself, and let the grateful words flow.

If you do, be ready for showers of sentiment and fulfillment to overwhelm you. Wilma knows exactly what that is like.

A life of public service achieved

Lt. Richard Haun by Bruce Stambaugh
Lt. Richard Haun spends much of his time documenting cases on the computer.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Simply put, Richard Haun is living his dream.

As a teenager, Haun knew exactly what he wanted to do. With timely guidance and self-determination, he has more than achieved his goal. Not bad for someone yet to turn 40 years old.

Haun is actually Lieutenant Richard Haun of the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office. He has been with the sheriff’s office for 24 years. Do the math and the answer becomes apparent. Haun began his law enforcement career at that tender age of 15.

It really all began with some public service modeling by his mother and encouragement from a friend that got Haun thinking about life in law enforcement.

His mother served as an emergency medical technician, and a friend encouraged him to join the Boy Scouts of America troop that served as Explorers with the sheriff’s department.

“I always wanted to be a deputy,” Haun said. “That’s why I joined the Boy Scouts law enforcement Explorers Club. That’s how I got started and I’ve been here ever since.”

One assignment of the Explorers was to be a presence at the Holmes County Fair. He began making his rounds there in 1986 and hasn’t missed a fair since then.

“Once I got into the Explorers,” Haun related, “that’s when it clicked for me.”

Born in Millersburg, Haun grew up in Killbuck and graduated West Holmes High School in 1989. With his sights set on a career in law enforcement, Haun didn’t have much social life as a teen.

“I would go to school during the day,” Haun said, “then attend the police academy in Coshocton in the evening.” Haun said those classes ran from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We even had some classes on Saturday,” Haun said. “I couldn’t even attend my senior prom because I had to qualify on the firearms range.”

Haun lives in Millersburg with his wife, Susan, and two sons. The Hauns have been married for 17 years.

Haun started as a reserve officer in 1988. He went full-time in 1989 as a dispatcher in the communications division and has worked his way up the law enforcement ladder one rung at a time.

Haun has been a road patrol deputy, the supervisor of road patrol, a court bailiff and a detective. Now he is supervisor of both the civil division and the child support division.

“When I started, we didn’t even have a computer,” Haun said. “We wrote everything down on a legal pad. Now everything is done with computers and legal pads are used as scratch pads.”

Haun spends much of his day doing electronic paper work on the computer. He has to stay up on changing laws and attorney general rulings and relay that information to the rest of the sheriff’s office staff.

“That’s the toughest part of my job,” Haun said. “Keeping track of all the necessary paper work is demanding.”

During his years with the sheriff’s office, Haun has seen first-hand how crime has changed. He said the sheriff’s office deals more and more with identity theft and computer theft.

“We sock a lot of man hours into online crime,” Haun said. “Sexual predators and embezzlement are increasing.”

Haun coordinates prisoner transports, court appearances, and monitors all of Children’s Services needs when it comes to background checks for employment and those seeking employment.

The various positions he has held have required him to train in all divisions. Haun said his experience and training, including online training, enables him to be flexible in his work.

“I’ve gone where I’m needed,” Haun said. “It’s all a part of the educational process.”

“I do regret not going to college,” he shared. “But if I were to count all the hours of training I’ve done, I probably would have some kind of degree.” He said he would encourage his sons to go to college.

Still, Haun has no regrets about the career path he has chosen.

“It’s a pleasure to be of service to the public,” Haun said.

This story first appeared the Holmes Bargain Hunter.

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