2012 in Review: City loses 3 prominent residents

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FROM STAFF REPORTS

Aurora -- Three well-known longtime civic-minded residents of Aurora -- Elizabeth Strahan, Matthew "Ric" Mattmuller and George B. Chapman Jr. -- died in 2012.

According to her son John Jr., Strahan was "always an activist for the underdogs; she never closed her door on anybody. Her door was always open."

Mrs. Strahan, a former City Councilwoman who has a city playground in the Geauga Lake area named after her and who started the city's first newspaper, died July 6, 2012 at age 100.

Mrs. Strahan launched the Fish Store, a food pantry and used clothing store, at Routes 43 and 82 in a former Mobil gas station where Walgreen's is today.

She also orchestrated Bible study groups in her home. Former Mayor Lynn McGill said there were times when he called on her to help people who couldn't afford to pay their water bills.

Mrs. Strahan started a monthly neighborhood newsletter called the Listening Post that at one time was mailed to people in all 50 states and thousands of service men and women overseas. Vaca said it was the first newspaper in Aurora, and she was editor for 26 years.

Entering city politics, she served as a Ward 1 Council rep from 1962-71, and she was a founding member of Geauga Lake Community Church, which now is New Life Assembly.

In the late 1990s, she was the grand marshal in the city's July 4 parade. She was named a citizen of the year, and the Geauga Lake "tot lot" was renamed "Liz Strahan Playground." She also volunteered for the American Red Cross.

Mr. Mattmuller, 86, died May 12 at his home. A registered pharmacist from 1950-2006, he was the owner-operator of Aurora Pharmacy, Aurora's first pharmacy, from 1957-89.

As mayor from 1980-84, he was instrumental in the planning and completion of a fire station, police station and extensive remodeling of Town Hall. From 1986-90, he also served as a Councilman.

HE ALSO instrumental in developing the Veterans Memorial in Aurora, was a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club of Aurora (president in 1965), held professional memberships in the Ohio Pharmaceutical Association and was a lifetime member of the Summit County Pharmaceutical Association.

He was an Aurora Schools Foundation "Friend of the Schools" and in 2006 was grand marshal of the July 4 parade.

"Everybody knew Ric; everyone went to his pharmacy," said former Mayor Lynn McGill. "Ric was very helpful to people who came to the pharmacy. He would open it to dispense prescriptions even when it was closed."

Mr. Chapman died Nov. 24, 2012 at age 95. He was a longtime businessman and was well known in the Aurora and Greater Cleveland area for his community service.

In the late 1940s, he joined his father as an Aetna Life & Casualty insurance agent. He spent 20 years there and extended the family's management of the agency that lasted 50 years, 30 of which it was the largest Aetna agency in the country.

He also was employed by Lubrizol Corp. as division head of personnel and public relations, then in 1967 he started his own independent agency -- Chapman & Chapman -- where he served a president until his retirement in 1982. The agency is now a fifth-generation family business run by son Walter.

He served as a director on the boards of several organizations, including Hill Acme Corp., Federal Metal Hose, Edward Howard & Co., Petroc Co. (co-founder and president of the southern Ohio gas and oil drilling firm), Union Commerce Bank and Huntington National Bank.

He also was chairman of the admissions committee of the Union Club. His charitable activities included the Northeast Ohio American Heart Association and Martha Holden Jennings Foundation.

Mr. and Mrs. Chapman and his parents provided financial gifts that were key in the establishment of Aurora Memorial Library in 1966, and additional funding in 1971 led to the establishment of the Performing Arts Center.

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