The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper


Donna Degenfelder, Isabel
(Liz) Abbott and Phyllis Millard
pose in their old neighborhood,
before the construction of I-280.

Former neighbors and good
friends Phyllis Millard Bender,
Donna Degenfelder Graham
and Liz Abbott Carter recently
had the opportunity to catch up
with each other after 50 years.

It was a joyful reunion 50 years in the making for the Navarre Avenue “Three Musketeers.”

Their friendship started several years ago in a trio of homes on Navarre Avenue between Dearborn/Navarre and Mambrino/Navarre.

The three baby girls – Phyllis Millard, Donna Degenfelder and Liz Abbott – had birthdays that fell a week apart from each other – Phyllis on March 26, Donna on April 2 and Liz on April 9. Phyllis and Donna were the same age; Liz was a year older.

As the young girls grew up, they became good friends – the Three Musketeers – sharing good times and making memories throughout their days at Coy Elementary and Clay High School.

“I believe the high school years were the greatest – Thursday and Sunday evenings were biggies,” said Liz. “We had white shoe roller skates and went to the Pearson Park outdoor arena, then onto the Shelter House for maybe a dance (with one of the few special guys that could dance), something to eat, a game of ping pong or just standing around and chatting with someone new.”

Phyllis’ house was usually the hangout where the girls could get on the phone, call their friends, listen to records or maybe bake something to snack on. Her house also had a porch swing where the girls could wait for potential beaus to go by and blow “wolf whistles.”

After the girls graduated, there were big changes taking place – in their beloved neighborhood and in their lives. Letters were sent to the owners of the three homes that the state was taking the properties. “A new interstate highway was going to be built around the cit of Toledo that would incorporate our properties,” Liz said.

Two of the homes were torn down and one was moved – the first separation for the three friends. Then came jobs, marriages, more moves and families to raise.

Donna and Phyllis, who stayed in Oregon, kept in touch over the years, while Liz married and moved several times, eventually settling in Greenville, S.C.

Recently the three friends had a chance to reunite after 50 years when Liz drove to Oregon from South Carolina for a class reunion.

The trio enjoyed lunch together, toured Maumee Bay State Park and caught up on old times.

“We had a wonderful reunion,” said Donna, who is now Donna Graham.

“What a great idea Donna had,” Phyllis said. “It was great to have the Three Musketeers together again.”

As we grow older, we all want to be healthy, active and independent for as long as possible. We try to watch what we eat, get some exercise and learn all we can to be physically healthy. However, if we only focus on keeping our bodies well, we are missing half of the equation.

While most of us focus on the physical aspects of health in improving our well-being, the social dimension of our lives is equally important. Social wellness involves the ability of people to successfully engage, interact and maintain healthy, meaningful relationships. It means feeling connected to, participating in and contributing to the welfare of the community.

For older adults, social connectedness is often a priority need. Studies show that socially isolated people are more susceptible to illness and have a death rate two to three times higher than those who are not socially isolated. Social wellness can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to deal with stress. Those who lack adequate social supports are more vulnerable to safety risks such as elder abuse and substance misuse. A healthy social network helps to promote emotional and physical well-being, decreasing the risks of depression, isolation, loneliness, poor health and decreased life expectancy.


On Sept. 11, Friends of the Pemberville Public Library (FOL) will sponsor a tourhistoric-home of a local home with a wealth of history to share.

The Bockbrader home has been owned by only one family since 1858. The ancestral homestead was put on the auction block in April 2000 following the death of the last occupant, Kenneth “Lover” Bockbrader. After many of the family’s accumulated treasures were sold, another family member, as a surprise to family members, purchased the homestead.

The present owners, Judy and Marlyn Bockbrader, have restored numerous aspects of the original home. A replica of the original 1858 log cabin has been replaced with a log cabin hauled piece by piece from Indiana. All facets of the structure were numbered and reconstructed on site.


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