LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge
Louis Byersmith doesn't have enough time to do all the things he would like to do.
The Sylvania Township resident spends his summer days painting neighbors' mailboxes, watering plants, painting sewer lids, and even power washing front sidewalks of the quiet suburban neighborhood on Carrietown Lane.
In addition, Mr. Byersmith, 80, finds time to watch over his bed-ridden wife, and can often be seen with her on their evening wheel-chair strolls through the neighborhood.
"His heart is as big as gold," said Ruth McClurg, who has been a neighbor to the Byersmiths for more than 10 years. "You don't have to ask him to do anything and yet he always shows up to help."
Ms. McClurg said that Mr. Byersmith is always willing to help out in whatever way he can. "A few weeks ago, one of our friends couldn't figure out what was wrong with her computer and he spent an entire morning at her house until he fixed it," she said.
A World War II veteran who was stationed in China, Burma, and India during the war, Mr. Byersmith said that his volunteerism and desire to help his neighbors was inspired by the poverty he saw in the many places he lived during the war.
"I saw a lot of suffering and and India during the war, Mr. Byersmith said that his volunteerism and desire to help his neighbors was inspired by the poverty he saw in the many places he lived during the war.
"I saw a lot of suffering and pain and since then, that made me want to help out people in whatever way that I can," said Mr. Byersmith, who won a Bronze Medal and many other medals for his service in the 879th Airborne Engineers.
He joined the airborne engineers when he was 18 and traveled around the world making stops in Italy and North Africa. "It was really discouraging to see the poverty that people lived in," said Mr. Byersmith, who also spends some of his time visiting friends in nursing homes.
He and Mary Alice, 78, met at the University of Toledo and got married on Aug. 13, 1949. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1999, a year after his wife suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed. They have four children and eight grandchildren.
Mr. Byersmith, a Toledo native, retired as the Bryan, Ohio, city engineer in 1992 and then worked on a contract-basis for the Ohio Turnpike Commission before moving to Sylvania Township in 1997.
Last year, he painted all the fire hydrants and 56 mailboxes in his neighborhood and sometimes he fixes some mailboxes.
"It takes me most of the summer to paint them all, but some of the mailboxes get pretty beat-up after the lawn mowers go through," he said.
Mr. Byersmith, who also spends his days compiling photo albums and making scrapbooks of family pictures for his grandchildren, said he would like to do more for other people because he, too, gets a lot of help from many friends in giving home health-care to his bed-ridden wife.
"She is my inspiration," Mr. Byersmith said. "It takes me longer to do many things now, but I'd like to do more."
If you know someone who, like Mr. Byersmith, is "a good neighbor," and he or she would like to be considered to be featured in a Neighbors news story, call the Neighbors Editor at 419-724-6089.