BILLIE RYKARD, THE MATRIARCH OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD – Community Spotlight
Billie Fedeli Rykard has an extensive Christmas card mailing list, which includes 93 city officials. As the president of the Belle Vista/Allendale neighborhoods since 2003, Billie likes to stay in touch with her many contacts, including influential names she wouldn’t hesitate to call in the middle of the night if a resident of the neighborhood was in trouble. She is passionate about her job as president, devoting countless hours each week. Her daily duties include maintaining the association directory, welcoming new residents with information about the neighborhood and sending care notes to residents who have recently had new babies or to others who have experienced a loss. She drives around the streets noting who has made home improvements for her monthly newsletter, collecting fees for the annual garage sale or checking in with sick neighbors.
Billie has much to be proud of. There is the triangle plot where Belle Vista and Kimberly Road intersect that was transformed from a weedy, littered area into a lovely landscaped space. A sign is placed there honoring her husband Paul. Over the years, with their support, $1 million in city and county dollars have funneled into the neighborhood that has been used to resurface streets, replace storm drains and sewers as well as repair the Fairfield Ditch. In 2009 Billie spearheaded a petition to save the Waynedale Post Office by collecting more than 1000 signatures.
Billie started out in Owensboro, Kentucky but moved to Fort Wayne in 1964 when her husband started work at Essex Wire. She has two daughters, Beryl who resides in Florida and Judy who lives here in Fort Wayne. She is blessed with three grandsons, one granddaughter and two great-granddaughters, however, she states, “the neighborhood has been my life.”
Since she is so spry, one would find it hard to believe that Billie will turn 88 in August. Surviving three husbands and serving as their caregiver as each battled cancer, Billie now faces her own challenges as she is strictly gluten free eating organic foods. She had served as treasurer of SWAP, Southwest Area Partnership for eight years until her eyesight prevented her from driving to the nighttime meetings. But in her spare time, she attends Waynedale United Methodist Church and is a Silver Sneaker member of Curves.
Billie was nominated as someone that we should consider for this column and as I’ve learned more about her, leafing through her scrapbook filled with photos and newspaper clippings, charting of all the many projects Billie and her husband Paul brought to fruition in the Belle Vista-Allendale neighborhood, she certainly has earned the opportunity to be recognized. Billie isn’t ready to hang up her hat yet; she is looking forward to Mayor Tom Henry coming June 29th for a neighborhood walk. Undoubtedly, she will have some future agenda for the neighborhood to bring to his attention.
To encourage and promote positive action in the area, this Community Spotlight column will highlight a different notable member of the community each month. If you or someone you know is a community leader and is an active volunteer in the Waynedale area, please nominate them by emailing email@example.com with details of how they are helping the community for consideration in an upcoming article.
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