The Young at Heart event has expanded to two days at two sites.

The festival for active seniors will be Thursday, July 18, at Villa Milano, 1630 Schrock Road, Columbus, and July 25 at the Makoy Center, 5462 Center Road, Hilliard.

Bob Orr and Ann Fisher will be the featured speakers July 18. Chuck White and Jym Ganahl are the featured speakers July 25.

Below are stories on White and Ganahl. Both also were in attendance at last year's event.

Chuck White

Longtime TV personality Chuck White is resolute in remaining young at heart.

Most days you'll find him at the gym, staying fit, and he gives his mind a daily workout with constant reading and crossword puzzles. He also speaks French and Russian.

"Growing old is not in my vocabulary," said White, who is best known for his time at WBNS-10TV, where he produced shows, anchored the news and served as the station's director of community affairs for 30 years. "Basically, I want to do everything I can to keep healthy in this longevity that I'm experiencing."

The 84-year-old wants to help others do the same.

The Worthington resident's 50-year career at WBNS-10TV sprouted from a conversation with his college roommate, Frederick Peerenboom, who is better known as Fritz the Nite Owl and was host for the "Nite Owl Theatre" at the station from 1974 to 1991.

"He was working in the newsroom as a copy editor when he was drafted into the Army, and he said, 'Chuck, why don't you replace me at the station?' " White recalled. "I said, 'I don't really want to go into television.' Well, he talked me into it."

White was one of Ohio's first African American broadcasters, but viewers became familiar with his voice on the 1960s children's program, "Luci's Toyshop," which was hosted by Luci VanLeeuween and ran on the station from 1960 to 1972.

White served as puppeteer, co-producer and co-writer and was the voice of the singing Mr. Tree, one of the show's most beloved characters. Mr. Tree was 7 feet tall and slept most of the time. He could be awakened only with the "Mr. Tree song."

"Whenever I do public speaking and people find out that I was Mr. Tree, there's this 'ooh and aah' you can hear all over the audience," he said. "People remember the song, and they sing it."

White was working in the film-editing department when he decided to audition for the show. Station program director John Haldi was so taken aback with White's ad-libbing and puppeteering that he was hired on the spot.

"Luci's Toyshop" aired at 9 a.m. weekdays, when children would see VanLeeuween appear in her red- and white-striped apron to deliver gentle life lessons with her puppet friends, Stanley Mouse, Wonder Witch, Dragon, Lamb and Pierre, which she designed and sewed.

White was the hand and voice behind the characters, except for Stanley Mouse. Pierre was his favorite, he said.

VanLeeuween, who died in 2003, was best described as a female "Captain Kangaroo."

At the same time, a show similar to "Luci's Toyshop" was being created in Pittsburgh -- "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."

"I loved doing that show, and I love bringing a little nostalgic humor to people who are growing older, but growing older gracefully," White said.

Children always have been a focal point in White's life. Not only has he raised three of his own; he also created the Children's Miracle Network Telethon, which began in 1985.

"I think the first amount we raised was something like $300,000, and then we went on up into the millions -- literally," White said.

According to WBNS-10TV, the telethon, which became the blueprint for other fundraisers, had received more than $10 million for the hospital by 2014.

White continued to make appearances on the telethon after retiring.

"I wanted to give back to this community because I enjoyed my years in television in this community," White said. "That was my mother and father's philosophy -- always give back."

Over the years, White also has been involved with Employment for Seniors Inc., which helps link those ages 50 and older with employment opportunities. He's also been involved with American Cancer Society, Urban League and the central Ohio chapter of the Alzheimer's Association for 20 years.

"My mother died of Alzheimer's," he said. "I know there's some genetic link there, and I'm hoping I'm not going to get it. That's why I keep myself mentally alert as constantly as possible."

These days, White is taking a slower approach to life and enjoying what the world has to offer. He and his wife, Bernice, a retired nurse, are world travelers, having been to Iceland, Cuba and all over Europe.

However, he always enjoys getting in front of an audience.

"I'm looking forward to seeing people who grew up with me. ... I hope I bring a little humor and a little light to the day," White said. "With all the negative things we have going on today, we need a little bit of levity."

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews

Jym Ganahl

Like many children, veteran central Ohio meteorologist Jym Ganahl wanted a day off from school and became frustrated when the promised snow did not accumulate in his hometown near Waterloo, Iowa.

"I was 12 years old, and I would get mad at the TV weather guy (from the station in Waterloo) for not getting it right," said Ganahl, 70.

Ganahl is a familiar face in central Ohio as he continues in his fifth decade of keeping viewers informed about weather and occasionally sharing such anecdotes as his Iowa childhood.

"But I always want to know about the people I meet," said Ganahl, who still follows the advice of his father to avoid speaking about himself.

Ganahl acknowledged that although viewers often ask him about things he has shared on air, he always strives to direct the conversations back to them.

Ganahl is the on-air meteorologist for WSYX for the noon broadcast with Terri Sullivan.

"Terri is great to work with; we have a great rapport," Ganahl said.

But he also is known to many native central Ohioans for his time as the evening meteorologist for WCMH from 1979 to 2016, often interrupting prime-time broadcasts to report on tornado threats and other dangerous weather that typically occur in the late evening.

Ganahl also was the on-air meteorologist on WNCI (97.9 FM) for 40 years while at NBC; today he is does the same for WTVN (610 AM) and WCOL (92.3 FM).

His first turn on air came at another NBC affiliate, KWWL in Waterloo, where Ganahl was hired weeks after graduating from high school in 1966.

"I walked into the TV station (in Waterloo) and told them I could do a better job than who they had," Ganahl said.

By fate, that weatherman already was leaving the station, providing Ganahl with an opportunity.

"They liked the idea of a 17-year-old kid and gave me a try."

During his time at the Waterloo station, Ganahl also served in the U.S. Army.

After Ganahl's enlistment, the Army learned he had a college degree in meteorology and assigned him to a helicopter unit, where he gave weather briefings to pilots, a job he continued with the Iowa National Guard until 1976. In the era before hospitals had MedFlight, the Iowa National Guard would transport those critically injured to hospitals.

As many viewers know, Ganahl loves snow.

"I love winter," both for the beauty of snow and ice, Ganahl said, but also because it is less hectic to report on snow systems than fast-developing summer storms.

However, it was an iconic winter storm -- the blizzard of 1978 -- that played a role in Ganahl's arrival in Columbus.

He was interviewing for a job as Chicago's WGN-TV when a colleague in Detroit recommended him for the job in Columbus at WCMH.

"(Columbus) had just hard back-to-back hard winters, and I was from upper Midwest; they wanted someone from cold-weather climate that really understood these blizzards," Ganahl said.

After arriving at WCMH, Ganahl became connected to the community in other ways.

He taught science at St. Agatha School in Upper Arlington and for a gifted program taught in summer at Ohio Wesleyan.

Ganahl also performed in the cast of "Tecumseh," an outdoor drama in Chillicothe, and for Shadowbox Live, a comedic troupe.

In September 2016, he retired from WCMH but said he felt "lost" and within a year began exploring options, thus leading his hire at WSYX in October 2017.

Inviting Ganahl back on air was "a no-brainer," said Jamie Justice, news director for WSYX.

"I had an opening for a meteorologist, and Jym was the first person to come to my mind. He is a legend in Columbus, so I picked up the phone and called him," Justice said.

"He told me he wasn't ready to retire, and I told him I wanted him to be a part of my team."

"I felt lost like many do when retiring and that I had lost my purpose. Thanks to Jamie for finding me," Ganahl said.

-- Kevin Corvo

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo