WARREN — If her father hadn’t been killed in an accident in the Lake Milton area when she was just 18 months old, Carol Bovee’s life might have taken a different turn.
Bovee, 78, the new receptionist at SCOPE Senior Center in Warren, loves to sing, which she started doing as a teenager. She won a Northeast Ohio talent contest in 1960 at the age of 17 singing “Where are the boys” by Connie Francis.
“My dad was a part-time nightclub singer and guitarist and I kind of followed in his footsteps,” said Bovee. “If he had lived, I probably would have pursued a career as a singer, but my parents (mother and stepfather) didn’t have the knowledge to involve me. So now I just do it for fun.
Bovee is vice president of the Trumbull Senior Production Company, which is based out of Trumbull County’s SCOPE Senior Services. She has been singing with the group for 18 years.
“I like to sing just for fun. I like being able to hit those high notes and make people smile,” she says.
Bovee will perform in two major shows this year. The first will be “Back to the 60s” for the Mercer County Senior Follies on August 6-7 at Hickory High School in Hermitage, Pennsylvania. The other is “Another Overture, Another Show, Part 2” November 5-6 at Warren SCOPE on North Park Avenue.
“I mostly show tracks, but one song that’s very popular is ‘God Bless the USA’ (by Lee Greenwood) and I’ve had requests to perform ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra. I’ll do that one in the two shows, she says. “I love to sing. God gave me a gift and I use it. I sing in my church choir, First Baptist Church in Girard.
Bovee was born Carol Graham and graduated from Girard High School in 1962. After her father died when she was very young, her mother, Elsie, later married Eugene Veisz, who Bovee said was a “wonderful father-in-law.” His older brother, a half-brother, Gene, was an entertainer and he died in 1978. His other older brother, Bud Graham, was an Aut Mori Grotto clown known as the Crackers. His younger brother, a half-brother, Kenny Veisz, owned Memory Lane Photography on Belmont Avenue in Liberty.
Her first husband died, and she said she met her second husband, Harry, on a SCOPE-sponsored bus trip to Atlantic City.
“He saw me and he didn’t leave me alone until I agreed to go out with him” she said with a small laugh.
She was married to Harry Bovee for 35 years before she died in August at the Washington Square Nursing Home of complications from dementia. She has a daughter, Kelly (George) Whippo and a granddaughter, Clarissa, 27, who lives in Calcutta, Columbiana County with her husband.
“Clarissa used to sing in shows with me when I was a little girl,” said Bovee.
She and Harry moved to Las Vegas in 1989 after he retired, knowing they would eventually return to that area, which they did in 1998.
Bovee worked as a cashier at Kmart in Niles for three years, playing Mrs. Claus at Christmas. In fact, she played Mrs. Claus all over town for many years.
“He was the performer in me,” she says.
She worked in Starr Realty’s real estate office in Girard for about 10 years before moving out west. In Las Vegas, she worked in the office of the Mirage casino, where she signed up people to learn to speak English. She then worked in the office of a gaming company called Teddi’s Gaming. She said that because cards used in casino table games weren’t allowed to leave Nevada, workers cut the edges of the cards and sorted them into decks to sell in gift shops.
Bovee said that after her husband’s death, she felt a lull in her life and wanted to keep herself busy by volunteering. She met SCOPE executive director Mike Wilson years ago while singing at a show. So she went to the Warren Center in November to see how she could help. It just so happened that the receptionist position opened up while she was there and she asked if she could apply for the position.
“They tested my computer skills and I did well, so they offered me the job. I really like it here,” said Bovee.
She answers the phone, takes messages, follows people as they walk the trail, serves people coffee, helps seniors register for classes and activities, and greets people when they arrive.
“I like the people I work with. We always laugh and it’s very relaxed. she says.
But it’s the people she works for that make her a calling, not just a job.
“I like being able to help people when they call for food, transportation or other services. We have just completed our tax program through AARP. Helping people is the best gift you can give,” said Bovee.
In addition to her usual duties as a receptionist, she teaches the Monday night crochet class and about a month ago she made 48 bags of cornhole for the cornhole league at the Howland SCOPE Center.
“I’m a seamstress, not a seamstress, so I can do small repairs on things to save money. I also do small costume repairs for the production company’s costumes,” said Bovee.
And although she spends most of her time helping others, she said SCOPE saved her life after her husband died.
“I was very close to my husband and had a lull in my life. SCOPE helped me fill the void,” said Bovee.