Jeanne Sager | Democrat
George and Barbara Hahn share some old stories with visitors during Sunday's open house.
'Get it done' was Hahns' motto
By Dan Hust
JEFFERSONVILLE The story told in photographs and newspaper clippings set up the length of the bar in the Jeff Firehouse wasn’t just that of George and Barbara Hahn. It was the story of a town.
A town that threw a farewell party Sunday afternoon for two of its favorite citizens.
By Thanksgiving, the Hahns plan to be ensconced in a new home in Connecticut, closer to their daughter.
Mother and father of two, grandparents of four, the Hahns will leave behind a town she’s called home from the get-go. Barbara Lott was Jeff native. George known to some as Doc for his nearly 40 years as the town’s veterinarian jokes that he’s a foreigner. He moved to town from Callicoon Center.
Still, Jeff was his town too, the place where the Hahns ran their animal hospital (she was a nurse at the Liberty Loomis Hospital for a time but later worked the business side of the clinic).
It’s where George served on the school board, Barbara on the ambulance corps. It’s where George lobbied to save the handcrafted Stone Arch Bridge when the state moved to tear it down, where Barbara rescued the old school bell and restored it to a place of honor.
The parents of the Christmastime Luminaria that spreads for miles beyond the village. Forerunners of the JEMS Renaissance group if there was a community project completed in Jeffersonville, chances are the name Hahn was marked somewhere in the progress notes.
As long-time friend Jack Costello who succeeded Barbara as head of the JEMS explained, “we’re losing dedicated people who love the village, who look for the best in everyone and could bring out the best in everyone.”
“They got everyone to work together,” Costello added. “That’s something lacking in America and Sullivan County.”
But for the Hahns, it’s simpler even than that.
Asked why they spent more than half a century at work for their town, and they look to each other for answers.
“It was there to be done,” George said, just as Barbara chimed in, “It had to be done.”
And they did it.
In a letter nominating Barbara for one of a long list of awards handed to the couple Sunday afternoon by the Jeff Area Chamber of Commerce (who threw Sunday’s open house at the firehouse), friend Frank Haskell explained “if I were to try to list all the things that Barbara Hahn has done for this community, this piece of paper would probably not be big enough.”
With their departure, the village will lose Barbara’s endless energy, the couple’s commitment, their pride, said Chamber Vice President Kathy Herbert.
But a portion of that has passed to every person in the village a contagious piece of love for Jeffersonville.