Every year the city of Whiting bestows upon a citizen the Carl A. Binhammer Award to honor an individual for their call to public service and their efforts to improve their community's quality of life.
This year's recipient more than exemplifies those qualities and has for all 92 years of her life.
Ann Devoy was born in Whiting, graduating from Whiting High School in 1940. She later graduated from the St. Margaret Hospital School of Nursing and was hired an as operating room nurse.
Feeling a call to duty, this young woman enlisted in the U.S. Army. After basic training at Fort Knox, she became a lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps, caring for returning wounded soldiers.
After WWII, she was hired by the American Red Cross to do community nursing in her hometown and in 1949 was hired by the city as its first public health nurse under Mayor Andrew Kovacik. She later became certified by Western Reserve University in public health teaching and continued to serve under six different Whiting mayors until her retirement in 1986.
Ann was always a hands-on nurse. She would go into people's homes to take care of the sick, taught classes on bathing an infant, visited shut-ins and helped start the city's first food pantry.
When Standard Oil blew up in 1955, she was one of the first responders. Awakened by a phone call from police, she jumped out of bed, threw her coat over her nightgown and came to the rescue of those who were hurt.
As a child, I remember Ann coming to do the TB testing for our school. Even after all these years, I remember that when Ann weighed you, she didn't announce your weight out loud to the class. She just said it quietly and wrote it down. Being a chubby 12-year-old, I remember how grateful I was and remember thinking how incredibly sensitive this woman was.
And that's exactly what she is. She is brilliant, is still on top of her game, constantly reading and updating her medical knowledge. She once said to me of her career, "I got so involved because when you have people and they have no one and don't have the language, it would be a disservice if I didn't help them."
Friend and Whiting artist Al Odlivak once made a drawing of Ann which hangs on her wall. In the drawing, Al dubbed his friend Ann "Whiting's Florence Nightingale," which she certainly has been.
She was more than just the city nurse. Many seniors still remember her unselfishly paying for their groceries or medications.
Unable to receive the Binhammer award personally, Ann wrote a letter of gratitude to be read. My favorite line was "Unlike most of the recipients of this award, I actually knew Carl Binhammer." Her comment brought down the house.
With her wry sense of humor and a true sense of unselfishly serving others, Ann Devoy continues to be one of Whiting's heroes. She is certainly one of mine.