by Laura Bednar
Don and Regina Day gave of their time and talent to foster the growth of St. Barnabas parish and Catholic school. Both of these Sagamore Hills residents passed away in 2022, but have left a legacy behind through handcrafted items and service to those in the community.
The couple moved to Sagamore Hills in 1994, but was involved in the beginnings of St. Barnabas church in the 1950s.
“They helped transform it into what it is today,” said Don and Regina’s son, Don Jr.
Don Sr. worked at Ford Motor Company at the Walton Hills stamping plant for almost 40 years in a variety of roles including foreman and superintendent. He stayed retired for only six months before deciding to work again, becoming a custodian at St. Barnabas Catholic School for 15 years. He learned carpentry skills in his youth while working as an apprentice for Lawrence Dalton, according to his obituary, which led to the construction of several wooden pieces for St. Barnabas.
In addition to cabinets and bookshelves for the school, Don Sr. handcrafted an outdoor Nativity set that has been set up outside the church for almost 30 years during the Christmas season. After Don and Regina’s passing, a friend of Don Jr.’s created a commemorative plaque for the Nativity scene. Don Jr., his brother and friends assemble the set each year.
“My parents were always good at making things,” he said, noting that his mother had done ceramics since the 1980s. Regina made statures and figurines for people for several years.
Much like Don Sr., Regina’s artistic talents were a hobby. They put their abilities to work when Don Sr. found several religious statues in storage throughout the church and school campus. The statues were chipped and faded, and Regina was asked to strip the paint and refinish the statues to be displayed in the school. One of the most prominent statues is of Our Lady of Fatima, now poised on a wooden base attached to a wall in the school building. Others include St. Joseph and Jesus.
The wooden bases for each of the statues were created by fellow Sagamore resident and St. Barnabas parishioner Pat Foley. He said when the Days approached him about making the bases, “I was more than happy to do it.”
Foley has been a woodworker his whole life, even operating a workshop on Route 82 in Sagamore, which has since closed. He built furniture, tables and shelves, carving shamrocks into the pieces. He sold his wares at Irish festivals for over a decade before scaling back to recreational woodworking. Foley recently crafted a wooden monstrance, a cross-shaped vessel that holds the Eucharist, for the church’s adoration chapel.
The efforts of Don, Regina and Foley resulted in several statues being displayed in the school.
“I’m most proud of what we did together, the [Fatima] statue on the high wall is beautiful,” Foley said.
As a member of the parish, Don Sr. served on parish council, was a Eucharistic minister and member of the Knights of Columbus. He was also a Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 575 for 20 years. According to his obituary, Don Sr. was also a CYO football and baseball coach and even volunteered to build sets for the spring musicals at Nordonia and St. Peter Chanel high schools. Along with other volunteers, he converted the old St. Barnabas church into a gym, including tearing out the flooring and renovating the space.
Don Jr. said his mother was just as giving with her time. Regina was a Cub Scout mom, sold concessions at bingo and was a member of the PTA. According to her obituary, she drove members of the St. Barnabas clergy to their appointments, prepared and served food after funeral masses and spent time with the residents at Grande Oaks and Heritage Care outside of her normal receptionist duties there.
“She was behind the scenes being supportive,” said Don Jr.
Don Sr. died on May 7, 2022, at age 87, and Regina followed him on July 26, 2022, at age 86.
“They were very giving people; it was in their hearts,” said Don Jr. “They were constantly giving and asking for nothing in return.” ∞