In the Van Wert area, Paul Hoverman is well-known for making sure that music is part of the community’s landscape. For three decades, he has also played trumpet in the Lima Symphony Orchestra.
The 58-year-old Van Wert native is executive director of Niswonger Performing Arts Center of Northwest Ohio.
“I manage a staff of five employees, oversee all the operations and book all the concerts,” said Hoverman, explaining his full-time professional responsibilities. The talented musician also wears another hat as the coordinator of performing arts for Van Wert.
Hoverman believes that he most likely inherited his love of music from his mother, Katherine, because his father, Howard Hoverman, wasn’t that musical.
“My mom played piano at church quite regularly,” he said. “She was not professionally trained, she just enjoyed it. She wanted to make sure we kids got to play in a band or sing in choir, because she never had the opportunity. They never had the finances to buy any instruments when they were young,” because it was during the Depression. His grandmother played piano, too.
Hoverman had three siblings. Philip is a retired band director in Archbold, sister Linda is a United Methodist Church minister in Paoli, Indiana, while brother David is deceased. Growing up, both “faith and church attendance” were important as members of Ohio City’s former Greenbrier United Brethren Church.
“When you attend small country churches like that, you are a family. You certainly take your faith seriously, and make personal commitments to Christ,” he said. The small church setting also provided “the opportunity to perform music in church.”
Phil, who is six years older than Hoverman, was a role model.
“We both started (playing the trumpet) in fifth grade at Anthony Wayne School,” Hoverman said. “He excelled at it, and I wanted to keep up with my older brother.”
The 1977 Van Wert High School graduate played first chair trumpet in high school.
When it came time for college, again he followed in Phil’s footsteps by choosing to attend Bowling Green State University. During high school, Hoverman struggled briefly with wanting to “make my own identity,” he said. He contemplated journalism and broadcasting, but becoming a BGSU trumpet major like his brother won out.
It’s a good thing it did, because during his last year of college, Paul met the woman who would be his wife. Annette Jones was also a student at Bowling Green majoring in piano performance. Originally from Tipp City, Annette was the perfect musical soul mate, since as an instrumentalist Paul jokes, “I married my own accompanist.”
After graduating from BG in 1982, he became band director at Hicksville Exempted Village School for two years. That first November there, Paul and Annette married, and she began teaching piano privately and at Defiance College.
Then in 1984, the Hovermans moved back to his hometown when he accepted the position as the band director at Crestview schools. After four years there, the couple “had the opportunity to buy a retail music store,” he said. As owners of Hoverman Music Center in downtown Van Wert for 14 years, “I mostly managed the store. She did some of the bookkeeping and moved her piano studio into the store.”
Along the way, they had three children: Kristen, 29, Tim, 26, and Jacob, 22, who all have studied music. Kristen now works for Google, and Tim who once played trumpet with The Ohio State marching band, is an IT manager for the state commissioner’s office. Jacob also plays trumpet and sings and is pursuing a master’s degree.
It was 25 years ago this September when the talented trumpeter initially accepted the position as the chancel choir director at First United Methodist Church of Van Wert. “I’ve been there ever since,” he said.
In 2002, Hoverman joined the Van Wert Foundation as coordinator of performing arts. It was then the vision to start the popular Fountain Park Summer Music Series was birthed. Five years later, he was also appointed executive director of Niswonger Performing Arts when it first opened.
Despite all of his success when it comes to music, Hoverman doesn’t take any credit.
“I think it just shows you how God makes plans for you, and if you are willing to listen to His direction for your life, He can bless you,” he said. “I’m humbled, because I would never have mapped out my life. You know, all things work together for good for those who love God.”
Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.