(Photo by John Cook) Bob Traver, Richelle Deming and her children, and Habitat for Humanity of Lapeer-Tuscola officials gathered July 2 when the Deming family received a new well -- after Traver delivered free water to the family for nine months. From left are Habitat official Carolyn Nestor, Chad Deming II, Leddie Deming, Lexie Deming, Habitat official Ed Watteny, Traver, Lanie Deming and Richelle Deming.

Driller hauls free water to family for nine months

Well-driller Bob Traver’s generosity runs deep: For nine months he hauled free water to Richelle Deming and her children – until the family received a new well.

“I just started doing it and giving her water because of her children,” said Traver, 73, owner of Traver Well Drilling, while overseeing drilling of Deming’s new well July 2 outside her Tuscola Township home.

“They had to at least do their dishes and flush their toilets,” Traver said. “(Richelle) was carrying water to her home in five-gallon pails, from nearby homes.”

Traver said Deming’s well “collapsed” and quit working in October. So Traver, also a Tuscola Township resident, hauled water from his own well about one mile to Deming’s house – scores of times.

Deming, 39, calls Traver a “godsend” for her and her four children: Lexie, 21; Lanie, 17; Chad, 13; and Leddie, 9.

“The minute we ran out of water, he has always made sure we’ve had it,” Deming said. “Every week when we’d run out he would always make sure that we had water so we could flush the toilet, wash our dishes, take showers and brush our teeth.”

Traver said he placed a 110-gallon tank in the Deming family’s basement to provide water during colder months, filling the tank with water hauled from his home – sometimes three times per week.

“That (110 gallons) kept her going for about a week if she did it right,” said Traver, who – once weather warmed in April – placed a 3,000-gallon water tank outside the home to provide water.

He stopped hauling after drilling of the new well last week, financed when Habitat for Humanity of Lapeer-Tuscola obtained a $7,500 grant to pay Traver Well Drilling for the project.

Traver “didn’t even know about us, and we didn’t know about him,” said Carolyn Nestor, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Lapeer-Tuscola, which strives to provide affordable housing and make critical home repairs in Tuscola and Lapeer counties.

Deming asked Habitat for Humanity for grant funds, and told them about Traver.

“He did this out of his own goodness of heart, and dedication to his community, and neighbors,” Nestor said. “What a great individual. You don’t hear stories like this every day.”

Nestor said that when Deming was told the $7,500 grant was approved, “she was so happy she screamed.”

“You can’t place a value on the generosity of Mr. Traver, though,” Nestor said. “When (Deming) told us the whole story, I was amazed.”

In 1965, Traver began working for a well-drilling business owned by his father-in-law, the late George Grainger. Traver became a licensed well driller in 1986.

The new well drilled at Deming’s home this month is one of about 50 projects – including 30 in Tuscola County – occurring this year with grant funds from Habitat for Humanity of Lapeer-Tuscola’s Critical Home Repair program.

The program provides up to $7,500 of free repairs at each home, with eligibility tied to a homeowner’s income. Projects include new roofs, windows, water heaters, furnaces and wells.

“We travel Tuscola County from top to bottom, and from left to right,” said Ed Watteny, housing manager for Habitat for Humanity of Lapeer-Tuscola.

Mayville State Bank’s voluntary participation with another financial institution distributing the grant funds makes the home repairs possible, Nestor said.

“The program is grant-funded but we cannot go directly to the money, and we have to go through a member bank to get to the money,” added Watteny.

“We can spend up to $300,000 in Tuscola County for critical home repairs, in one year, because of Mayville State Bank,” Nestor said. “They made it all happen for us.”

Those seeking more information about the home-repair program may call 810-664-7111.

Deming, who said she’s on a limited income, said the new well addressed a critical family need. Deming, who works on the care staff at Covenant Glen of Frankenmuth, said she lives in the home of the late Emil and Alice Schiefer, the parents of Deming’s stepfather, Gary Schiefer.

“Once Alice passed away, we took it over and we’re trying to restore it,” Deming said. “It needs a lot of work, but we’re getting to it.”

Emil Schiefer, Traver said, “was a good person who did a lot of stuff for a lot of people for a lot of years.”

Traver also embodies that spirit, according to Deming’s daughter, Lexie, 21, a certified nursing assistant who provides home health care. She thanked Traver for his generosity.

“I just moved back home a while ago, and I’ve never really met (Traver) personally, but I’m very, very grateful that he helped all my brothers and sisters have running water,” Lexie Deming said. “They’re the ones that got the brunt of not having the well.”

Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer for The Advertiser. He can be reached at gilchrist@tcadvertiser.com.

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