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Sat, Aug. 24

Travel time helped Les Belch discover 'home' in VOC

Les Belch

Les Belch

According to Les Belch, 1950s small-town country life in Ohio was a great way to grow up. There were 150 in his graduating class at Lake Township High (a co-op of all the small towns in the area). His grandparents were members of the school’s first graduating class.

Les’ father was a railroad man who wanted to provide better for his family. He began selling insurance as a second full-time job. Eventually, it became his only job. Buying an Airstream, they traveled ... a lot. They were in 47 of the (at that time) 48 states. Les’ favorite trip was the Grand Tetons. “Northwest Ohio is so flat. I just loved the mountains.”

As a teenager, Les was very involved in the Luther League, the youth ministry of the Lutheran Church. Les says he always thought he was going to be a minister, even getting his degree in religion from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio,

That’s where he met his wife, Peg. They’ve been married and have worked together for almost 49 years. After the death of his father, Les returned home to help (for a while) in the family insurance business ... where he and Peg both worked and remained for 28 years, raising three kids. They now have five grandkids.

The Belches continued traveling and in 2000 stayed at an inn here in the VOC, falling in love with the inn and the amazing scenery, “We caught Red Rock fever.”

During their stay, Peg showed Les an ad in the back of a magazine ... of an inn for sale. She said, “I think this is where we’re staying.” They went home, sold their insurance company, bought the inn and were back within six months as owners/operators.

Canyon Villa Inn is a hidden jewel in the Village of Oak Creek maintaining the highest reviews from their guests. Les really loves running an inn. “Customer service is the key,” he declares. He truly seems to delight in meeting the needs of their guests.

A humble man, Les says he doesn’t have an interesting story to tell. This is a man who was very involved in student government, was the student body president, sang in the state youth choir at the Ohio State Fair, was the school drum major, continued these various engagements in college, and as an adult was a charter member of the Perrysburg Rotary Club, sat on church councils and insurance industry advisory panels, and volunteered at Camp Mowana, eventually chairing its board of directors. Oh, and he’s pretty darn good on the guitar,

Les is a bit of a philosopher, insightful of sociology and human nature, politically aware, and genuinely cares about others. “People want to know they matter,” he said. At the Inn we don’t want angry people so we do what’s necessary to make their stay a great experience, to make them know they matter. But we don’t do it because it makes our business successful – we do it because we don’t know any other way to do it.”

Jim Cunningham, Jr. is a pastor, husband, father, lover of people, friend, neighbor, counselor, teacher, book collector, and jack-of-all-trades. Meet him here each month to become acquainted with yet another Village resident.

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