October 20, 2014

Elyria
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Longtime Penfield Township clerk calls it a career

PENFIELD TWP. — Just call her “Queen of the Grants.”

After 37 years of helping to run Penfield Township, Eleanor Gnandt has retired as fiscal officer and clerk.

A reception will be 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Penfield Township Hall at state Routes 301 and 18 for the woman, who helped bring hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to the township.

“She’s the queen of the grants,” said Penfield Township Trustee Lloyd Gordon. “We call her mom.”

Gordon said the township has a few surprises planned for Gnandt, who was one of Ohio’s longest-serving elected officials.

Interviewed at her home on Peck-Wadsworth Road, Gnandt said she is tickled that people would want to honor her.

She proudly supplied a list of $252,792 of grants she helped to arrange over the years for Penfield Township.

The biggest was from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources from the state’s share of off-shore drilling proceeds that brought $170,911 to the township for the creation of Penfield Community Park.

Perhaps the most unusual grant was an $8,766 grant from the Betterway Foundation, which was divesting itself of its accumulated funds, that the township used to pave a driveway to the park pavilion.

“I probably read about it in The Chronicle-Telegram,” said Gnandt, who served as a correspondent for the paper for 28 years.

Gnandt, who turns 86 in June, said she’s lived a wonderful life in the township after moving there in her teens.

Among her first experiences in high school was overhearing two boys talking about her physical attributes in Hungarian.

She gave them a nasty talking down — also in Hungarian — and later was goaded by a female friend into asking one of the boys, George Gnandt, to a dance.

It was her first date, and she married Gnandt, a farmer. The couple had five children.

Her youngest children, Kurt Gnandt and Eric Gnandt, were 12 and 14 when she was appointed to the position of township clerk. In the early days, she kept the township book on her kitchen table along with a typewriter and adding machine.

“When it was time to eat, we’d move everything to the bed,” she said.

One of her daughters, Carmen Dudash, said her mother is “still very sharp” and adored public service.

“She loved it and actually had mixed feelings about retiring,” Dudash said.

Gnandt said her own health and that of her husband played a role in the decision.

She is still a little delicate after an automobile crash last year that broke her pelvis, sternum, ribs and a leg bone.

And her husband, who still farms along with his sons, also was laid up in recent months after breaking his hip.

Gnandt said she’s always enjoyed farm life and has made many wonderful friends.

Her sons asked her to stop riding the tractor at age 80, and this will be the first year she isn’t planning a vegetable garden.

Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or cleise@chroniclet.com.