SALEM- Denise Herron Weingart gave back to the community in life - now she'll be remembered as the community returns the favor, both for her and the Big Back Yard program she helped start.
A benefit pasta dinner, bake sale and silent auction will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. May 9 at the First Presbyterian Church on Second Street in Salem, with all proceeds used to cover Denise's final expenses. The late 51-year-old Salem resident who served as a Columbiana County juvenile prosecutor lost her battle with cancer on March 31.
Susan Gregory, a legal assistant with the county prosecutor's office, said she and her co-workers had already been planning a dinner on Denise's behalf to help her out. When she passed away, they decided to still hold the dinner to honor her memory.
The cost for the dinner is $8 per person, $4 for children under 10 and free for children under 5. A silent auction is also planned, with bids taken for donated baskets and donated gift cards to be provided by a number of organizations, groups and individuals.
Denise was a big Cleveland Indians fan so one of the baskets will pay homage to the Indians. There will be a Youngstown State University basket, a basket with lottery tickets, a wine basket and many more themed baskets.
The prosecutor's office personnel will cook the dinner and Denise's fellow church members at the First Presbyterian Church will hold a bake sale. The Quaker Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police donated $300 to help cover expenses for the dinner.
The Columbiana County Bar Association, which passed a memorial resolution in Denise's memory at a recent meeting, donated the funds for a $500 gift certificate to the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake which will be raffled off.
All proceeds from the raffle will be donated to the Big Back Yard, a project Denise helped organize at the First Presbyterian Church as a means to get the neighborhood to gather for an activity, both children and adults, on Wednesdays throughout the summer.
The program kicked off in June 2011 and is continuing this year, which was Denise's wish, for the gathering to keep going. Besides her involvement with the Big Back Yard, she was active in the church as an elder. She also served as an executive board member of the ROC of Salem, which provides a place and activities where youth can hang out. She was also a board member and vice president of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Columbiana County.
"She loved to help others, particularly children, as reflected in one of her favorite quotes from Mother Teresa: 'Peace begins with a smile,'" the bar association resolution said.
A 1980 graduate and valedictorian of Salem High School, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in nursing from the University of Akron in 1984 and worked as a registered nurse at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, becoming nursing supervisor before leaving in 1991. While working as a nurse, she attended the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, earning her Juris Doctorate in 1990.
Her career in law began with the Columbiana County Child Support Enforcement Agency in 1991 as in-house legal counsel, then she joined the county Prosecutor's Office as an assistant prosecuting attorney in the juvenile division in 1993. She worked there until January 1997, then relocated to the Cuyahoga Falls area where she worked for the Medina County Prosecutor's Office in the Child Support Enforcement Division.
She returned to Columbiana County as a juvenile prosecutor in 2007 and continued working with juveniles there until her recent death.
"Denise Herron Weingart's presence, counsel, guidance and friendship shall be missed by all," the bar association resolution said.
She was the daughter of Denton and Marilyn Herron of Salem and mother of two boys, Jared and Jacob.