Grace Sidell to be remembered with her own day in Fremont
FREMONT - Grace Sidell met her late husband of 54 years, Rollie Sidell, doing what may have defined her best: cheerleading. Grace was a Port Clinton High School cheerleader who was pepping up the crowd during a big football game against rival Oak Harbor High School when Rollie, Oak Harbor’s star player, came barreling into the sidelines for the ball. He accidentally knocked Grace over.
“They had a sock hop after the game, and Dad came up to her to apologize for knocking her over,” said their daughter, Beth Sage. “That’s how they met.”
From that moment on, Grace became Rollie’s cheerleader, then a cheerleader to their eight children, and then a cheerleader to generations of children who attended Camp Fire Sandusky County during her 35 years with the organization.
Grace died on Dec. 12 at the age of 88, leaving a legacy of impact and support on hundreds of people.
Fremont Mayor Danny Sanchez has designated July 20, 2023, as “Ms. Grace Day.” Plans are in the works for a ceremony.
“Mom was just a mom to everyone,” Sage said. “When she passed, so many people reached out about her. It was Camp Fire, but it was also people who just met her.”
Grace and Rollie bought a home and 10 acres 60 years ago, turned it into a working farm, and taught their children that work can be a fun privilege. The family raised horses, pigs, cows, rabbits and ducks. Together, they butchered and milked their livestock and tended a one-acre garden. At one time, the only thing purchased at the grocery store was paper products.
“I loved growing up there,” Sage said. “We worked hard and ran around barefoot all the time. We were raised to get our work done first, and then we could enjoy each other.”
Grace became a Camp Fire leader, then a field director and, in the early 1970s, she was named executive director of the Buckeye Council and Camp Fire Sandusky County. When she first became involved, the organization met at the former Camp Yukita in Port Clinton. When storm damage forced the group to find a new location, Grace was instrumental in finding the current camp on Baker Road in Fremont which now includes an assembly hall and swimming pond.
“Mom was part of that decision. It was just bare land then. There was a chicken coop where the hall is, and there was no pond. Mom was the foundation of all that,” Sage said. “They had the biggest council in the United States. She really was groundbreaking.”
At the age of 84, Grace found love again and married a man she had met decades earlier when their children were young. In the many years since, both had lost their spouses and they attended the same church where they sat in nearby pews. Although senior citizens, Bernie asked Grace out on a date and she said yes. Months later he asked her to marry him and she said yes again. So in 2019 Grace married Bernie Nause, who was age 91. She then went by Sidell-Nause.
When Grace retired from Camp Fire, she turned the family home into The Old Garden House where she hosted weddings, teas and parties. Each year, she invited area schoolchildren to visit her home for Heritage Days and taught them how their ancestors made things from scratch.
“When she retired from Camp Fire, she had a plan. She would never refer to it as retiring. She was moving on,” Sage said.
The Old Garden House gave Grace another opportunity to be a cheerleader. She encouraged young brides as they prepared to walk down the aisle, she created calm space where women could relax with a cup of tea, and she inspired young children to believe they could create beautiful things with their hands.
“Mom was nonjudgmental. She always instilled positivity. She made you believe you could do anything,” Sage said. “She always had an air of excitement, but she was comfortable. You could walk in her house and relax and know you were home.”
Contact correspondent Sheri Trusty at [email protected]
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