Known as “Grandma” to the Hobart High School theatre kids, Nancy Petruska has served as a role model and compassionate supporter for people across Northwest Indiana. Whether baking cookies, volunteering to help the growth of young people, or supporting local businesses, Petruska has a way of making sure everyone she meets feels the love.
Married for 47 years, Petruska and her high school sweetheart/husband, Harry, have had a tremendous impact on the youth in Hobart. The couple has spent much of their life in the Region, but settling in Hobart just fell into place.
“Harry worked at US Steel, went into Air Force, and when he came back, they held his job for him,” said Petruska. “His uncle was renting a house in Hobart, so that’s where we went.”
Petruska grew up in Merrillville, Indiana where she developed an early passion for education. After spending a year studying Elementary Education at Purdue University, she transferred to Indiana University South Bend. She ultimately graduated with a degree in Organizational Management which would allow her to make a great impact on local kids and families.
“If we raise independent children, we’ve done a wonderful thing,” said Petruska.
She started becoming involved with Liberty Elementary when her grandchildren came of school age. She started off as a substitute teacher and eventually accepted a position as an instructional aide, allowing her to interact with children of all ages. When she left that position to help homeschool her grandson, Petruska made sure to stay connected with Liberty through volunteering at the school.
“I’m a big community person and I wanted my grandson to be exposed to giving back,” she said. “You find a home at Liberty.”
Eight years later, she returned to the instructional aide position and has loved being back ever since. Aside from her involvement with the school system, however, Petruska has been incredibly active in the community in other ways. She has worked in victim’s assistance at the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office and volunteered at the Caring Place and CASA. These past involvements, combined with her service at her church, have led Petruska to have made a difference through compassionate and informed social work.
Outside of work and volunteering, Petruska’s presence in the community can easily be found around Downtown Hobart. Whether grabbing a bite to eat at Cafe 339, sharing a cup of brew at the Librarium, or browsing for books at Green Door, Petruska believes that small businesses are worth investing in.
“I think Hobart is a wonderful place,” she said. “Downtown Hobart is becoming very delightful and the lake is beautiful. I am a big supporter of small business and the ones in Hobart are very welcoming and very community-oriented.”
Petruska loves her local community, but she and her husband also have a passion for travel. With plans to move in with her daughter’s family, the Petruskas will have the ability to travel as they see fit. Visiting her son in Colorado is at the top of their list, but Yellowstone, New Orleans, and Key West are also must-sees for the outdoorsy and adventurous couple. Their travels are sure to only enhance the love they have for their home base in Hobart.
“I don’t know how to help globally or nationally,” said Petruska. “But I know we can all help our little corner of the world.”