Bonnie Hunter, a longtime friend of Bonita Scheidel, speaks at the amphitheater dedication about the contributions Mrs. Scheidel made to Sylvania and her love of children, nature, and community.
The will to fight a lion is how Larry Sykes, Toledo Public Schools board of education member, described Bonita Scheidel’s passion and courage to battle for what she believed in, even if the win came at the cost of losing her Sylvania City Council seat.
Making a sacrifice is what makes true leaders, he said about the late Mrs. Scheidel’s efforts to save the Lathrop House from being demolished by St. Joseph Church in 2001. It was instead moved. The home was on the Underground Railroad.
Community leaders, family, and friends gathered Sunday afternoon at Olander Park to dedicate the Scheidel Amphitheater, part of the Catherine Frye PlayScape, to her. She died in 2009 at age 61.
“She always put family first, and Sylvania was her adopted family,” said Bonnie Hunter, a friend for more than 10 years and an advertising manager for The Blade. She addressed about 40 people seated on the brick wall of the amphitheater that will serve Sylvania’s children as a theatrical stage with props and musical instruments.
The PlayScape, a space that encourages children to be outdoors and roam nature freely, will be open in the fall. The PlayScape is part of a mission “to get children back to nature,” Erika Buri, conservation manager, said.
Ms. Hunter spoke about Mrs. Scheidel’s commitment to friends — “there was a place in her heart for all of us” — and community. Her achievements and activities included two terms as councilman, chairman of the Parks and Forestry Committee, supporting the Sylvania Youth Conservation Corps and the Historical Village, along with developing the Sylvania Senior Center.
Larry Sykes, Toledo Public Schools board of education member, was on hand to dedicate the Scheidel Amphitheater, part of the Catherine Frye PlayScape.
Mrs. Scheidel’s home, where her husband, Rolf, still lives, borders Olander Park. He and longtime friend Jane Stuntz of Toledo spoke about her love of children and the outdoors.
“The park system was her passion,” Ms. Stuntz said. “It was important to her because of the beauty of parks, and the beauty of children being free and to learn about nature.”
Councilman Katie Cappellini credited Mrs. Scheidel for inspiring her to stand up for what she believed in. The two worked together to buy playground equipment for Burnham Park.
Others spoke in the area that already contained a greenhouse, garden, and walkway, which was formerly call the Back 40 by park staff, as it got little use, Ms. Buri said.
Now the vision of two women will be embodied in the future PlayScape in the northwest corner. Just as the presence of the late Catherine Frye, a founder of Olander Park, was felt at her dedication ceremony in June, so was Mrs. Scheidel’s.
“She brought the sunshine today,” Ms. Hunter said.