Larry Trace of Chagrin Falls has always done “a little bit of everything” while bringing the community together through his constant service.
Mr. Trace said he’s always tried to simply “help where I can help.” Sometimes that’s simple tasks like picking up a fellow community member who said he’d lost his keys and needed a ride.
“That’s what’s great about the community,” he said. “If somebody needs help, we try to help them.”
The Golden Gate Lodge No. 245 of the Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio is presenting Mr. Trace with the Chagrin Valley Community Builders Award tonight during a ceremony at the Tanglewood Club in Bainbridge. The award recognizes his lifetime commitment to the community.
The award itself started a few years ago in recognition of the 300th anniversary of freemasonry and was sanctioned by the state of Ohio to be given to a non-mason in the community, according to member Bill Diesing. The award is required to be given at a banquet, and the Golden Gate Lodge No. 245 decided to make it a benefit dinner as well, the profits of which will go to Valley Save-a-Pet this year. The freemasons put forward names at the beginning of the year for the award and voted for Mr. Trace to receive the award, according to Mr. Diesing.
Mr. Trace has been a mentor and helper in the community throughout his life, but still says he’s “not sure that I deserve it” when it comes to this award. He credits his parents for teaching him to take care of people. His mother was always volunteering, Mr. Trace said, and worked in the cafeterias at Chagrin Falls schools for years after his father died.
Janet Peters, also of Chagrin Falls, said that from even his teenage years, Mr. Trace has been someone who cares for others. She said he used to come by her bakery with his grandmother and help her shop. Years later, Mr. Trace helped Mrs. Peters as her husband was recovering from heart surgery.
“I woke up one morning and there was ice and 3 feet of snow. I thought, ‘Oh, this is terrible. I’m by myself. What am I going to do?’” Mrs. Peters said. “I called Larry and he said, ‘don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about a thing.’ He came out and shoveled out the whole yard. He’s always there. He really cares for people.”
Another local activity that Mr. Trace said he currently helps with is running sound for the musicals at the Chagrin Falls Intermediate School, alongside the fourth-through sixth-graders. He said that he’s gotten to know many of the students through his volunteering at the schools, including Patrick Carroll, who ran sound with him from fifth grade until his recent graduation from Chagrin Falls High School. He also mentored Patrick through the Boy Scouts and saw him get his Eagle badge.
After 46 years as the properties manager at Federated Church, Mr. Trace said he still “stops by” to do work there. He is also currently a member of the Cemetery Board, which recently brought the idea of moving the Chagrin Falls Savings and Loan Building to the cemetery to serve as the sexton’s office to the city council.
Chagrin Falls Village Councilwoman Erinn Grube said that he serves on the Cemetery Board and is a dedicated attendee to all council meetings. She also recalled a conversation she had with Mr. Trace about cemetery expansion, and Mr. Trace mentioned that the sexton had been meeting with people in the cemetery’s maintenance building. Through their conversation, the idea to move the Chagrin Falls Savings and Loan Building to the cemetery as an office space was conceived.
“I’m so glad that that was him recognizing, first of all, this was one of those buildings that’s worth saving,” she said. “He helped to put those connections together so we can make that project actually happen.”
Mr. Trace said that he and his fellow board members work to keep the original, small-town feeling in the cemetery, much as the community members of Chagrin Falls attempt to keep the historic qualities of the city. Along with the Chagrin Falls Historical Society, he and the cemetery board worked to restore the Civil War monument at the cemetery as well.
“We try to keep the cemetery from getting away from a small town feeling,” Mr. Trace said of being part of preserving a piece of the Chagrin Falls in which he grew up. He said that he has always appreciated the fellow community members who are “trying to keep it what it is.”