For Debi Gifford, the daughter of Buster Channen and Phyllis (Wilson) Channen, and her two brothers, Amy Burckhart and Beth Dunlap, community service is important. Debi grew up near her grandparents north of Osceola. She began attending Holmes’ Liberty School and Likens Her School, after which she attended Wynford High School. She remembers seeing Winford when it opened. It was so big that she looked forward to going there. Debbie loved music and she played in the royal brass band, concert band and symphony orchestra. Irvin Kindinger was the band’s director and over the years helped children get into music. Debi graduated from Winford High School in 1975.
Debbie married Chris Chandler and had two children, Jason Chandler and Christy Kroll. Debi drove Winford’s school bus for eight years after her graduation and had other part-time jobs. Chris and Debbie went their separate ways, after which Debbie married Eric Gifford. He served nine years in the United States Air Force, stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona, before being transferred to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. Debbie was allowed to travel with him. When President Bill Clinton cut troops, Eric retired and they went home. Now Eric and Devi live in the “suburbs” of Rumato.
Debi got a job working as an office manager at Tom and Lavonne Moore’s WBCO radio station. She loved working for the company, but after a few years she decided she wanted to try something new. She started her customer service job at her Life Touch in Galion. It’s been a learning, growing, and humbling experience, and she’s learned that the grass behind the fence isn’t always greener. She realized she should have stayed at WBCO. An opportunity arose for Mike and Donna Ripley to return to the station as station masters. Here she became involved in the community. The three have served the community well and she has been with WBCO for her 20 years. The Raipuri family sold the business, but Debbie remained with her until 2015. During that time, the Moore and Laipuri families focused on community, and Debbie learned the process, too. She saw a need in the community and approached the out-of-state headquarters to allow it to develop an online news source. Once approved, Crawford County Now was launched.
Meanwhile, friend Rhonda Rowland asked Debi to run for the Winford Board of Education. She won the election and held the office for 16 years. She was happy to see her grandchildren Tim Chandler and Todd Chandler graduate from Winford. One of Debi’s biggest accomplishments with his participation was the opening of the new building in the fall of 2020. Again, Debi experienced a sense of “awe” at what was so great for their district. For Debi, it’s especially fulfilling to have Winford with her three additional grandchildren, Justin Chandler, Jamison Kroll, and Raylyn Mears.
Debbie also spent four years at Crossroads Original Designs, a candle factory. She worked in Human Resources, Front Office, Sales and Marketing. Her boss Justin McMullen called her a utility player. Her activities there were suspended due to the effects of the new coronavirus, and in the fall of 2020 she launched her career at Miley Realty and Auctions. What she enjoys doing in real estate is finding people’s homes, not finding homes.
Debi currently volunteers at the Crawford County Arts Council with Joe Graham. He said, “Debbie is obligated to register with the Crawford County Tourist Office,” so he twisted Debbie’s arm to tell the story. Debi was one of the founders of the Tourism Board many years ago. She is currently a member of the Bucyrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Galion Chamber of Commerce and the Humanitarian Society Serving Crawford County. She was recently elected to the council of St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Bucyrus.
Debi is currently helping her son Jason with costumes for the Bucyrus Little Theatre’s production of Disenchanted. The show opens on June 2nd and runs the first two weekends in June. Debi wants to be an actor but has a poor memory. She is good at improvising. Her daughter Christie also has something special to do as her mother and daughter. Jason and Christy always keep their mothers surprised. Debbie loves spending time with her husband, mother, children, grandchildren and friends.
Like many people, it’s a daily challenge for her to be the best she can be and to realize that her weaknesses have their reasons, and it’s up to her to use them positively. is.
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