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An unlikely friendship for 40 years: Why this Wadsworth man still mows his 7th grade teacher’s lawn

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Posted at 10:58 PM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 23:23:39-04

WADSWORTH, Ohio — For Todd Earle, yard work doesn’t really feel like work.

“I’ve always enjoyed mowing. It’s kind of tranquil in some respects,” he said. “I come home after work and do it.”

In addition to caring for his own Wadsworth home’s lawn, he also tends to one that he may know even better than his own: 98-year-old Adele Looney’s.

It’s Mrs. Looney to Earle.

“I first met Mrs. Looney back in seventh grade,” Earle said. “Spring of 1981.”

Looney was Earle’s home economics teacher at Wadsworth Middle School.

“I remember mostly having him in sewing because he had a little trouble with the machine,” said Looney.

While the sewing machine may have caused him some trouble, he made up for it in character. Earle started mowing Looney’s lawn because it was one of his father’s side jobs, and somewhere along the line Earle took over.

“He did a good job and he was dependable and I enjoyed having him,” said Looney.

The extra credit has been made up tenfold because through all of life’s changes, Earle remained in Looney’s life. He has mowed her lawn every year for the last 40 years.

“He keeps the grass looking great,” she said.

Looney retired from teaching in 1984. Her children moved away after college and her husband died in 2005.

“[Earle] often sees things that needs to be done and takes care of things,” she said.

Earle said it became a habit that he never stopped.

“I just keep an eye on it myself. If I’m out for a walk, I’ll walk by and say it needs mowed,” he said.

Earle's children would help from time to time and his wife often shops for Looney, when she can’t.

“’I’d rather be here than in a retirement home,” said Looney. “I never would be able to stay here if it wasn’t for Todd and his family.”

Earle and Looney said they’re grateful for an unlikely friendship that has withstood the test of time.

“As you get older, you don’t have as many contacts,” she said. “You don’t want to live alone, you want to have these contacts. I just appreciate all these lovely people that are so nice to me.”

Earle said he hopes to keep mowing Looney’s lawn for the next 15 years, to which Looney laughed and said “As long as I live, I hope,” and it’s a deal that Earle intends to keep.