A story of thanks and giving

Dorothy Reckner with Howard Bott share a moment in better times, around the kitchen table of Reckner’s home. (Photo by Steve Rappach)

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, one local family is showing its appreciation to another local resident — one who was able to save an elderly woman who had been out in the cold overnight.

Family members of Dorothy Reckner, a longtime resident of Glenmoor, are expressing support and gratitude toward local resident Howard Bott after he took time to help Reckner who had fallen and had laid outside for more than 11 hours.

“If it wasn’t for this man, I wouldn’t be here today,” Mrs. Reckner said.

On Nov. 19, Bott made a visit to Reckner’s home to see how she was doing and while there spoke with four of her six children, all of whom expressed gratitude to Bott, and reminded him how much his actions meant to the family.

According to family members, it all started on a cold Sunday evening, around 10 p.m., as Mrs. Reckner, 88, was getting ready to take out a small bag of garbage near her trash container to be picked up the next morning. As she was walking outside, she stumbled and fell to the gravel driveway of her home.

Mrs. Reckner made several attempts to get up. She yelled for help. But no help came. Instead, she attempted to stay warm as she lay on the gravel.

Eventually, the help came to her — around 9:30 the following morning.

It was about that time when Bott was traveling on Y & O Road with a fellow co-worker on the way to a job site. He says he glanced toward Reckner’s home and noticed a woman laying on the ground.

“I was listening to a buddy of mine, Frank, I was listening to him tell a story, another one of Frank’s stories in the cab of the truck, and I’m coming down through there and I was looking out the window, I just caught a glimpse,” Bott said. “Just a glimpse of a person laying on the ground. I told Frank that we should turn around.

“He said ‘Do you think we ought to, Howard?’ and I said ‘Yeah, I think we ought to. I’m kind of concerned. Just a peace of mind.'”

Upon arrival, Bott said he first looked up the narrow path, approaching her with great concern. He called 911, while looking for a way to make Reckner comfortable. He said he removed his shirt and placed it under her head to use as a pillow until paramedics from KLG Ambulance arrived and transported her to East Liverpool City Hospital.

Although Reckner said much of what happened that night has been a blur, she did recall not having a lot of garbage to take out that night.

“There wasn’t much in the sack,” she said. “There was just a little bit, but I thought: my garbage man comes on Monday and he always take it to the road.”

Steve Reckner, Mrs. Reckner’s son, said that at the hospital, his mother was placed in a “bearhug” — a device used to return a patient’s body temperature back to normal. His mother’s core temperature had been close to 83 degrees, he said.

“Her core temperature was way, way down,” he said. “Her core temperature was crazy down.”

Mrs. Reckner’s temperature eventually returned to normal, and she has made a full recovery. At the hospital, dozens of family members visited her and at the same time, wanted to personally thank the man who saved their mother and grandmother.

Bott said when he returned to work, he thought about Mrs. Reckner and her condition, and wondered what could have happened to cause her to fall, whether it was a stumble or if she had suffered a medical condition.

“I remembered thinking all day how is she doing,” Bott said. “I didn’t even know a name. I didn’t have anything. I didn’t have any information.”

Eventually, Bott received a call from one of Reckner’s grandchildren, whose father thanked Bott and asked him to come over to the hospital where he was greeted by the Reckner family.

“I get down there, and I bet you there was about 40 people in that hospital room,” Bott said. “That family just came together and it was just overwhelming. Everybody right there, they welcomed me with opened arms. And it’s not me, it’s the Lord. We owe it all to the Lord because that’s the only way I can describe it.”

According to her son, the emergency room doctor told Mrs. Reckner, “if he didn’t find you when he found you, you wouldn’t be here today.”

“Thank God that he came by when he did and he was a good enough person when he came,” Steve said.

Mrs. Reckner’s children describe her as a loving, independent and caring woman who was proud of her family, many of whom have served or currently serve in either the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines. The children also noted that she made sure the family was fed throughout the day, a sentiment shared by daughter Judy Strabala.

“If we were home from school, lunch was on the table at noon,” Strabala said.

Strabala also added that come time for the holidays, Mrs. Reckner has a lot more family members to keep in mind. Along with six children, Mrs. Reckner also has 27 grandchildren, 42 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

“She buys Christmas presents for all the grandkids, great-grandkids, all of them,” Strabala said. “Every year, and her kids, every year she made sure they got something.”

After having called Y & O Road home for the past 59 years, her children finally thought it was time for their mother to make a change. As a result, Mrs. Reckner made the move Sunday to Texas, where she will be staying with Strabala at her residence–but not before family from across the country gathered that Saturday afternoon and held a surprise Thanksgiving dinner for Mrs. Reckner.

In the end, those involved were thankful for the happy ending. Bott is grateful that he was able to help, while the Reckners are thankful for the man who came to the rescue.

“We’re just overwhelmed and we thanked God that we found one, or he found us, and saved our mother’s life,” Steve said.