Kenmore lost one of its most beloved artists and neighborhood cheerleaders in 2021. But thanks to family, friends, some fellow creatives and Kenmore revitalizers, her creative legacy lives on.
Paula Sandusky’s love of community began on Janis Avenue in Kenmore’s Castle Homes development. There, she attended Highland Park Elementary School (now Sam Salem CLC) and Hope United Methodist Church, where a young man named Arlie Holman caught her eye. But, like many youthful interests, that relationship would take time to fully develop. And the same can be said of her artwork.
Growing up, cross stitching was a favorite hobby of Paula’s. She had an eye for interesting and beautiful things. When a military marriage took her to Germany, she immersed herself in a culture that was very different from her somewhat sheltered upbringing in Kenmore. There, her love of art grew. She continued her cross stitching. She would do crafts with her children. And when a divorce sent her back to her old Kenmore neighborhood, she was met by a fellow artist who, after years, was eager to greet her.
“We were always sweethearts,” Arlie said of Paula. “Since 1974, we had always been in love.”
This time, the couple would stick together and were married for 35 years. During that time, art became a big aspect of their lives together. Arlie, a pencil artist and painter, said Paula was “very good without any formal training.” In fact, he said she had never really tried drawing or painting until about 15 years ago, when a drawing of a family dog began a new passion for her.
Encouraged by Arlie and her artist son, Eddie, Paula continued to draw over the years. And while she enjoyed creating and showing off her drawings, Paula’s favorite medium for artistic expression may have been weaving. She found joy in creating weavings and made many during her life. Several were even displayed during a group art show at Project Three Gallery, a pop-up art space at the corner of Kenmore Blvd. and 15th St., a space that would leave an even bigger mark on the landscape of Kenmore.
Together, Arlie and Paula contributed their talents to Caleb Aronhalt’s “Kenmore, OH” mural on the side of the very same building where Paula showcased her artwork. They did so as members of the Art Bomb Brigade, a local community mural arts and education program they became involved in when Eddie participated in The University of Akron’s Arts Lift program. After her passing, Paula was honored when, as part of a Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance revitalization project, Arlie and the Art Bomb Brigade painted the piers of the Manchester Road overpass with shapes of flowers Paula loved most.
“Kenmore is where we live. It’s our home, our community, and she wanted to help improve our community and bring it back,” Arlie said.
Paula believed - and participated - in Kenmore’s revitalization efforts. As a member of the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance’s Design Committee, Paula helped to guide some of the aesthetic decisions made regarding murals and wayfinding on the boulevard. She also served with Arlie on the Summit Lake Planning Committee, working to keep the area clean and establish recreation activities on the lake’s north side.
And there is no question: Paula was a loyal lover and champion of Kenmore her entire life, so much so that in late 2019, when her daughter, Elizabeth, and son-in-law, David, were looking to buy their first house in West Akron, Paula intervened.
“My mom gave us the biggest guilt trip,” Elizabeth recalls. “She told me ‘You’re from Kenmore, you need to come back to your home. Kenmore needs good people to bring it back to what it was,’” she said. Elizabeth and David ultimately bought a home in Kenmore, much to Paula’s delight.
Paula’s family remembers her as a person who cared about everyone and wanted to help everyone: Someone who believed in the good in everyone and sincerely was interested in listening to other people’s stories and what they had to say. But for her first love, Arlie, she was much more: “Paula was the light in my life and now that light is gone from this life. There will be a day when we see each other again.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up by Paula’s son-in-law, David, to raise money to buy a headstone for Paula’s grave. To support this effort, donate now.