By MIKE HUGHES, Prime Times
BARNESVILLE — The Ohio Department of Aging selects a handful of caregivers each year and honors them for their tireless work helping to take care of older Ohioans.
Barnesville's John Logan, one of the 2010 honorees, is a prime example of why the award was created and what it stands for.
His selfless efforts during the past 21 years has helped enriched the lives of those he’s cared for. But more than that, Logan stands as a model of what makes a quality human being.
His efforts in caring for those he loved are just part of what makes him who he is. Family always came first for Logan.
Nothing could prove that more than the steps Logan took to help care for his wife Rae Jean for more than two decades.
Rae Jean was first diagnosed with Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease in 1988. Her rare condition had symptoms of 13 different types of connective tissue diseases and was unable to be classified by only one name.
As the family began to fight, not only for Rae Jean’s health, but also her life, John knew some changes were going to have to be made.
‘‘We knew eventually we’d need a wheelchair,’’ John said. ‘‘So we built this house (in Barnesville). There’s no basement and it’s all on one floor.’’
The Logans previously lived down the road from the current home on Ohio 800 south of Barnesville. Knowing what was ahead, John built a new house on 23 acres of land that use to be part of his father-in-law’s farm. There’s only one story, and the floorplan, from the living room to the bathrooms, was drawn up in a way that would be easily accessible for someone in a wheelchair.
Knowing his wife’s love of flowers and gardening, John had raised planters built so she could continue one of her favorite pastimes. She also loved to travel and take in not only local sporting events, but football games her son Al was involved coaching in.
Al is currently the head coach at Muskingum College, his alma mater, but previously he’d been at Wittenberg, Davidson and the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. The 10-hour plus drive was made easier on Rae Jean thanks to wheelchair-accessible vans John purchased.
Rae Jean was an employee with the Barnesville school system. As her disease progressed, John became worried that she was dangerously approaching her benefit cap of what was then $1.25 million. So he decided to go back to work as a school bus driver and a nighttime janitor to gain further insurance.
He admitted it wasn’t a job he enjoyed — the nighttime part — but did so in order for Rae Jean to continue receiving treatment.
‘‘What’s funny is right before we thought she was going to run out, we received a letter stating the cap was going to be raised to $2.5 million,’’ Logan said.
Rae Jean passed away in 2009, but not before the couple and their family could celebrate the Logan’s 50th wedding anniversary.
The were together nearly 30 years when Rae Jean was first diagnosed and for the next two decades, Logan stuck by the woman he loved.
‘‘When we got married, this is what I signed up for,’’ Logan said. ‘‘That’s the way I always looked at it.
‘‘She would have done the same for me. She was a strong lady with a strong spirit.
‘‘She told me that she tried to take things one day at a time. Some days, it was 10 minutes at a time.’’
Given the type of person John is, it’s no surprise that his caring for others continues this day.
He helped take care of his mother-in-law Helen for nine years and helps look in on a friend of his wife’s family.
As he put it, she doesn’t have any family of her own in the area and it was the right thing to do.
John also helps care for his sister, who still lives in Barnesville in an apartment.
His sister Gladys was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but with John’s assistance, she’s able to live independently.
John will turn 70 years old in October but carries himself in the manner of a man half his age. It’s just him now in that spacious house nestled in the rolling hills south of Barnesville. But he has no intentions of leaving.
‘‘It’s almost too big of a house for me,’’ Logan said. ‘‘But I’ve got a lot of memories here and I've lived in it so long, I’d hate to get rid of it.’’
Hughes may be reached online at mhughes @timesleaderonline.com
JOHN?LOGAN stands in his living room/kitchen. Logan built this house after his wife was diagnosed with UCTD in 1988. It featured one-story designed with plenty of space for a person with a wheelchair to get around.