By Anya Tikka
FOSTERDALE “I had been looking for volunteers to try to save this old church,” said Dale Wingert outside the building in Fosterdale where a repainting effort was almost done.
He continued, “Then these guys turned up and wanted to help. I’d already bought the paint, but I’m physically not able to do the work.”
Diane and Jay Telesky of Hortonville came to help restore the building in memory of their son, who was tragically killed in an auto accident September 5, just down the road on Route 17B, near Burr Road.
“I’m doing this to honor the memory of my son,” said Jay. “He was more of a churchgoer than us, but I’m doing it for him.”
TJ was buried in the old cemetery behind the church, and the church’s condition caught their eye.
“TJ would have been 22 today,” said Diane, quietly wiping away tears. TJ was coming back from work when apparently an eastbound car crossed the lane and struck his car. Two other people were killed in the collision.
“He had two jobs,” said Diane. “He’d been working at Villa Roma, left to go to Monticello Casino, but he was going to go back[to the Villa].”
Jay and Diane have four other kids, Meghan, 24, David, 23, Gary, 21, and Bryan, 19. Their families have been in the area for generations.
Dale said Jay had already almost finished painting the church with his wife’s help. “Bryan has also helped, but he had to go to work today,” added Diane.
Dale said he had been looking for volunteers to help the church for a long time, and there seemed to be a meaning in how Jay and Diane came to help him there.
Unfortunately, the church had fallen into disrepair and the attendance has dwindled down.
“Full house at our church is 10,” said Kim Wingert, Dale’s wife.
The building has no running water, and the Wingerts are still looking for volunteers to continue the restoration efforts.
Pastor William Hagerty, who lives across the street, does extensive gardening, and leaves vegetables out for people to come and help themselves, said Dale.
“I’d like to see the Grange restored so we could have chicken barbecues again,” added Jay.
He’s willing to go on with the painting, if donations are forthcoming.
“The work this man has done is unbelievable,” said Dale, pointing to Jay. “We’re so grateful to him.”
Anyone wishing to help can call Dale Wingert at 583 4561.