John Van Havel clears 18-gallon mark for blood donations 7.23

Written by David Green.

After a recent blood drive in Morenci, John Van Havel stopped in the Observer office to say that he might be in first place now that Jack Smith has moved away and Arnold Smith is no longer donating.

He isn’t sure, but he just might be Morenci’s chief donor.

He swapped his 17-gallon pin for one with the number 18 on it earlier this year and he’s slowly moving his way on up.

John remembers his first donation—just a short 53 years ago. He was studying at Michigan State University and, like all males of the day, participating in the mandatory Reserved Officers Training Corps (ROTC).

“We had drill once a week and if you gave blood, you were excused from drill,” he said.

He just kept on donating after that, but he didn’t get serious about it until about 10 years ago. “Getting serious” means hitting every blood drive that comes along.

He missed one a few years ago when he was vacationing in the Upper Peninsula because he couldn’t locate a drive. Due to his inquiry phone calls, he received invitations from Petoskey and Escanaba for two years.

After John earned his 18-gallon pin, he saw Wayne Carpenter from Jasper.

“How many?” John asked.

Wayne started holding up fingers from both hands, two repetitions.

“Son of a gun!” John answered.

He knew what was coming from Wayne.

“He and I have been friends for decades and we have a friendly contest,” John explained. “But he’s so far ahead of me.”

Wayne became a regular donor before John made the decision and he’s somewhere up in the 20-gallon range. He always seeks out blood drives on vacation and he even has some Canadian donations to his credit.

Blood donations have fallen in recent years, but John has no intention of backing off. Dale Storrer is threatening from below, and who knows—Wayne could retire early and John just might have a chance to catch up.

  • Homecoming Court
    HOMECOMING—One senior candidate will be chosen Morenci’s fall homecoming queen during half-time ceremonies Friday at the football field. In the back row are seniors Mikayla Price, who will be escorted by Mason Vaughn; Madison Bachman, escorted by Kiegan Merillat, and Mikayla Reinke, escorted by Griffin Grieder. Senior Ariana Roseman is absent from the photo. Her escort is Garrett Smith. In the front is sophomore Abbie White, who will be escorted by Ryder Price; junior Madysen Schmitz, escorted by Harley McCaskey and freshman Madison Keller, escorted by Jarett Cook.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016