News: Neilsville Legion Recognizes Walker Volunteers (2014)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Walker, Hopfer, Poppe, Harrington, Eisentraut, Drescher, Mathis

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 10/01/2014

Legion Recognizes Walkers for Volunteer Service (6 October 2014)

Legion Recognizes Walkers for Volunteer Service

Bernard and Delores Walker of Neillsville are being recognized by the Neillsville American legion Post 73 for their years of volunteer service to the organization at a special dinner, Monday, Oct. 6, 2014. (Photo by Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press)

By Todd Schmidt

The Neillsville American Legion is recognizing Bernard and Delores Walker of Neillsville for their many years of volunteer service to the organization.

A supper in their honor will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, prior to the monthly meeting at the clubhouse on Boon Boulevard in Neillsville.

Bernard, 87, has been a member of the Neillsville American Legion for 50 years. Delores, 82, has been a member of the Neillsville American Legion Auxiliary for 21 years.

They are stepping back from many years of helping with food preparation, dinner serving and organizing volunteers mainly due to the health issues of Delores, who has had knee replacement surgery and is currently dealing with a heart condition.

‘We decided it was time,’ Delores said. ‘We gave up our duties about three weeks ago, Sylvia and Bob Hopfer took over the food preparation on Thursdays.’

Delores listed a number of key people who always helped over the years, including Norma and Ardith Poppe, Mr. and Mrs. Dick Harrington and Dave Eisentraut.

Delores said they worked for about six years with Vera Drescher, the former head cook at the Legion who passed away in 1999. For over 21 years, the Walkers led the process of preparing potatoes, making potato salad and grinding up cabbage for Friday fish dinners and other functions hosted at the legion, including weddings, anniversaries, class reunions and funeral dinners.

She pulled out a folder and a logbook showing what projects were done, who was contacted to help and who showed up to participate. Bernard thumbed down an older contact list of names and phone numbers, noting many of the people had passed away.

According to the records, during hunting season the Legion always went through 80 lbs. of baked potatoes, 65 lbs. of potato salad and almost three totes of cabbage.

In 2003 the Legion served 562 people at its annual smelt feed at the former facility on Hewett Street. Diners went through 125 pounds of potato salad, 125 pounds of little red potatoes, 58 dozen buns and 700 pounds of smelt. Near the end of the evening they ran out of milk.

‘The smelt were picked up in Two Rivers,’ Bernard recalled. ‘They were partially cleaned, and we had a group of 21 guys to finish cleaning the smelt at the Legion.’

The new American Legion hall was built in 2006. Delores and Bernard helped move things to the new location.

‘It was quite a change, moving up there,” Bernard said. ‘It is a big building with a lot more room. The old Legion Club atmosphere was like one big family. Volunteer help is what keeps the place going. At that time, we said we’d like to work one more year and here it almost nine years later. It was a lot of fun, and it got us out of the house.

Delores and Bernard plan to continue serving at monthly Legion pancake feeds.

Bernard has volunteered as Sergeant of Arms since 1990. He has called all the men for parades and funerals, and for many years he carried the American flag in parades and for Neillsville’s homecoming. Howard Mathis is taking over contacting Legion members to participate in these events.

Other duties of the Sergeant of Arms include unlocking the storage room and getting out flags and rifles for the legion members to use at ceremonies, including Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

‘Volunteering means a lot to both of us,’ Bernard said. ‘It was a lot of work, but we enjoyed it. I always figured it was our job to take care of our buddies who passed away. I thought it was a nice honor to carry the American flag and to march in all the parades and places.’

Their marching days are over. They now ride the wagon through parades. ‘Several of us older ones just can’t do it anymore,’ Bernard said. ‘There comes a time.”

Delores served for 10 years as Sergeant of Arms for the American Legion Auxiliary. For many years, she took care of the washing all the towels, receiving $20 per year for laundry soap and other supplies.

Bernard plans to continue his volunteer work at The Highground. He serves as a greeter the last Monday of each month. ‘We give out a lot of audio tour tapes,’ he said. ‘We get to meet a lot of people.’

In 1945, Bernard was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served in the Blue Devil Division of the 350th Infantry. After basic training at Ft. Sheridan, IL, the unit was deployed to Italy to patrol the border with Yugoslavia called the Morgan Line. After his honorable discharge in 1947, Bernard came home to farm.

After selling the farm, Bernard worked at the Nelson Muffler plant in Neillsville until his retirement.

They were married 63 years ago at the Fairchild United Methodist Church. They raised two sons, Dennis and Donald, and on daughter, Diane. The Walkers have seven grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, all proudly displayed in a photo collage in their kitchen.

‘What we do, we do together,’ Bernard said Friday, as they sat at the kitchen table in their cozy Grand Avenue home.’ ‘Where one of us is, the other isn’t far behind. After 63 years, we have had a lot of practice.’

Delores said they have enjoyed putting in their volunteer time over the years. ‘People we worked with were always willing to come and help,’ she said. ‘It felt good and rewarding to us we could make a difference. We will miss those times working together.’



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