[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]CHAMPION — Volunteering is a way of life for Harold and Bev Paye. You might say it’s in their blood.
The Payes, active members of St. Joseph Parish since they were married on Sept. 1, 1951, not only give time to their church. They are longtime volunteers for the American Red Cross.
The couple started coordinating Red Cross blood drives in 1992 at the New Franken Fire Department, where Harold was a volunteer fire fighter for 42 years. The blood drives later moved to St. Joseph Church and continue there today. About five drives are held each year. “We usually get anywhere from 45 to 55 people” donating, said Bev. To date they have supervised 92 blood drives.
Not only do they organize blood drives, they participate. Bev (O+) said she has donated 53 gallons of blood since her first donation 25 years ago and Harold (A+) has donated 41 gallons. He donated blood from 1975 to 2009, when he had to stop after being diagnosed with leukemia.
Since 2004, Bev has been giving platelet apheresis donations. This blood-donating procedure involves removing blood and separating needed components and reintroducing the blood into the donor’s bloodstream. Bev said the apheresis procedure benefits cancer patients.
It is an especially important donation and one that hits home for Bev, she said, because she has a great-niece, Deanne Schweiner, who has been battling cancer.
When they are not holding blood drives, Harold and Bev deliver blood to different hospitals. The deliveries take them to upper Michigan and all around northeast Wisconsin.
Whether it’s donating, collecting or delivering blood or putting in countless hours at St. Joseph Church or the nearby Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, the Payes are nearly inseparable. It’s been that way since they met at the Rendezvous skating rink and bowling alley near Luxemburg in 1949. They were both 16 at the time and two years later they were married at St. Joseph Church in Pilsen.
The couple raised five children and they now have 11 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Harold worked at a Sturgeon Bay shipyard and Green Bay paper mill before settling on a carpentry career. His last job was as a garage door installer, a position from which he retired 16 years ago.
In addition to raising five children, Bev worked at Larson Canning in Green Bay for about 20 years then at a fabric store until retiring.
Soon after they were married, Bev began teaching religious education at St. Joseph in Champion. Other roles followed: sacristan, church decorator, linen cleaner, groundskeeper and lay minister.
After Bev completed a Ministry of Lay Presiding Program, sponsored by the diocese, in 1999, she led services of the word with Communion at her parish. She still brings Communion to nursing home residents and visits Anna’s Healthcare in New Franken, an assisted living facility, where her oldest daughter Debbie, who has dementia, now resides. Bev also leads rosary recitation before Sunday Mass.
Wherever she goes, Harold is not far behind.
Harold’s carpentry skills are often utilized for repair work at church. He has also spent many hours volunteering at Our Lady of Good Help Shrine. Harold grew up less than two miles from the shrine and remembers serving Masses there as a boy on the feast of the Assumption. He said hourly Masses began at 5 a.m. and continued until the 10 a.m. outdoor Mass. “I used to ride my bicycle to serve at Mass,” said Harold, who is on the shrine’s advisory board.
For the past 25 years, Bev helps at the Assumption Mass, coordinating the young girls who carry the Marian statue around the shrine grounds during the eucharistic procession.
Last July, the couple was honored by the parish for their decades of service.
During a surprise presentation that took place at the conclusion of Mass, Fr. Andrew Kurz, pastor, and parishioner Bob DuBois presented them with a framed mirror engraved with a Scripture passage and message of thanks: “In honor and with great gratitude to Bev and Harold Paye for the many years of dedication and service to St. Joseph Parish, Champion.”
DuBois, who has known the Payes since joining St. Joseph Parish about 25 years ago, said their willingness to help others is legendary.
“Whenever anybody would need them, they would be there,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to know them. They are pleasant people and always willing to help.”
Bev said she was humbled by the recognition, especially because their service to the church is simply part of who they are.
“We were brought up in an age when you respected priests and you did stuff for the church,” she said. “I guess it got in our blood.”
That explains it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_message color=”alert-info” style=”rounded”]Your Catholic Neighbors
Names: Harold and Bev Paye
Parish: St. Joseph, Champion
Favorite saint: Bev: Therese of Lisieux; Harold: Joseph
Words to live by: Bev: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]