Full circle: Man spending retirement where he once lived as an orphan

Lynn “Popcorn” Weber rides his scooter around the Otterbein Senior Life campus, where he was a resident in 1959 at Otterbein Childrens Home.
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Lynn “Popcorn” Weber rides his scooter around the Otterbein Senior Life campus, where he was a resident in 1959 at Otterbein Childrens Home.

Well-known as ‘Popcorn,’ Lynn Weber at age 70 lives at Otterbein Senior Life campus, where he lived decades ago when it was Otterbein Childrens Home.

The way Lynn Weber maneuvers his motorized wheelchair around the Otterbein Senior Life campus, stopping just long enough to greet every resident and staff member, you get the feeling he’s right at home.

He should be. His residence has come full circle. He’s like a NASCAR driver who kept turning left until he ended up right where he started.

In 1959, Weber, then 11, moved with his brother and sister from Dayton to the Otterbein Childrens Home after he said his mother suffered a nervous breakdown. Weber and his brother, David, and sister, Linda, lived with about 60 other orphans in homes that now are the site of the Otterbein Senior Life campus on Ohio 741, just north of Ohio 63.

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Weber lived there until 1963, the year the children’s home closed, and he and the others were moved to Flat Rock Childrens Home in Flat Rock, Ohio. While a student, Weber worked in the Thompson High School concession stand during basketball games and his job was operating the popcorn machine.

Lynn “Popcorn” Weber serves popcorn from the machine near the movie theater at Otterbein Senior Life. His nickname, Popcorn, was given to him in high school when he ran the concession stand for sporting events.
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Lynn “Popcorn” Weber serves popcorn from the machine near the movie theater at Otterbein Senior Life. His nickname, Popcorn, was given to him in high school when he ran the concession stand for sporting events.

He was nicknamed Popcorn, and now, some 50 years later, the name remains. Few people know Lynn Weber. Everyone knows Popcorn.

Weber said after moving from Otterbein as a child, he promised himself that one day he’d return as an adult.

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“I was treated well as a child,” he said. “I told myself, ‘I will return some day.’ ”

He kept that promise and moved into a small home on Ohio 741 about 18 years ago. He has saved many mementos of those early childhood days and they’re stored in a wooden chest in his living room. It would be understandable for an orphan to want to erase their childhood memories. Instead, Weber embraces them.

“Well taken care of,” he said of his upbringing. “A lot better than being on the streets.”

Lynn “Popcorn” Weber stands in front of one of the few remaining buildings on the Otterbein campus that was part of Otterbein Childrens Home. Weber came to the children’s home in 1959 and stayed for four years before he was moved to another home in northern Ohio. He is now back at Otterbein Senior Life as a resident.
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Lynn “Popcorn” Weber stands in front of one of the few remaining buildings on the Otterbein campus that was part of Otterbein Childrens Home. Weber came to the children’s home in 1959 and stayed for four years before he was moved to another home in northern Ohio. He is now back at Otterbein Senior Life as a resident.

The girls lived in cottages and were separated according to their age, he said. The boys lived in one large building and each floor was designated for an age group. He said he remembers being taken to Cincinnati Reds games at Crosley Field, the Shrine Circus and having employees from Armco visit on Sundays. The boys also walked to Boy Scout meetings at a church in Red Lion.

“It was fun,” Weber said. “We had a good time.”

For two hours every month, Weber’s parents were allowed to visit. His mom and dad rotated what months they visited. Saying goodbye every month was difficult, he remembers.

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“It was pretty tough,” the joy suddenly gone in his voice.

Weber said his younger brother didn’t like living at the children’s home and frequently ran away by riding his bike from Lebanon to his dad’s home in Dayton. Another time, Weber said, his brother hid by climbing on top of a wooden water tower. He watched as the staff frantically searched for him, Weber said.

After Weber graduated from Thompson High School in 1968, he served in the Marines for a few years, then worked at a Sohio gas station in Middletown and volunteered with the South Middletown Fire Department. His brother now lives in Florida and his sister lives in Greenville, Ohio.

Lynn “Popcorn” Weber rides around the Otterbein Senior Life campus on July 18. Weber, 70, has battled some health issues, including diabetes. His left leg was amputated below the knee after it became infected.
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Lynn “Popcorn” Weber rides around the Otterbein Senior Life campus on July 18. Weber, 70, has battled some health issues, including diabetes. His left leg was amputated below the knee after it became infected.

Now 70, Weber has battled some health issues, including diabetes. His left leg was amputated below the knee after it became infected. The surgery took place around Christmas 2016, and Weber was in Atrium Medical Center through New Years Day.

He lost his leg. His sense of humor remains.

“I didn’t have no party,” he said with a chuckle.

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He wears a prosthesis with a Pittsburgh Steelers logo in honor of his girlfriend. He rides around in a motorized wheelchair. He rarely sits still.

He has taken numerous mission trips to Puerto Rico, Nicaragua and just returned from El Salvador. He prefers mission trips over vacations.

“God sent me,” he said of his missionary work. “I love God. He has been great to me.”

He’s also thankful that he prefers dancing over drinking, smoking or illegal drugs.

“I was brought up in the manner so it didn’t happen,” he said.

And now he’s back home. Right where he belongs.

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