This month we are honored to say “Thank You” to another Veterans Home resident who proudly served our Country in the United States Armed Forces.
In the fall of 1949, Curtis E. Washington, a native St. Louisan, enlisted in the U. S. Army Reserves and took his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In 1953, Private Washington went active duty and was immediately transferred to South Korea where he joined an Infantry Motor Pool unit as a driver and machine operator.
Nineteen Fifty-Five saw Mr. Washington return, as a veteran, to family and friends in St. Louis. Thanks to a suggestion from his brother-in-law, Curtis was interviewed and hired at McDonnell Douglas where he prospered during a 30 year career with the aircraft company.
As Curtis and I talked, a profile of this interesting man began to take shape. From early childhood, he was guided by his parents’ religious beliefs. As a young man, a close connection with his church, and a committed practice of faith in daily living, built a spiritual foundation that continues to sustain this veteran. Mr. Washington affirms that his relationship with God is the cornerstone of his life.
Curtis believes that with “God in Charge,” good things happen. The Washington family is a shining example. Curtis Jr. was first to arrive. Then came Tracy, and Sonja. Lastly, Kevin joined the family. Kevin has never been content to be last in life, however. As a young boy, and through junior high and high school, Kevin loved football. Football was “the family sport,” with everyone cheering as Kevin earned one recognition after another. Today, Kevin works for the VA in a responsible position at Central Supply.
Sonja helps keep everything running smoothly at the Road Maintenance Department of the City of St. Louis, and daughter, Tracy, loves her work as a career Registered Nurse. First born, Curtis Jr., enjoys a rewarding career in auto sales.
Curtis’ energetic wife, Sandy, has been our veteran’s travel companion, singing partner, advisor and best friend for twenty years. Before meeting Curtis, Sandy liked to travel. Now, that her husband has retired, its time to show him a few of her favorite places – and that she does! First, Paris. Then, the Bahamas. Now, Jamaica. Also, Hawaii. Let’s not forget Las Vegas, Southern California and Florida.
During Sandy’s career at Southwestern Bell, she made many friends. These included others, like herself, who loved to sing Gospel music. Now retired, these friends often sang together for enjoyment. The group performed at local churches and also out of town. Early on, “Bell in Action” invited Curtis to sing and travel with them.
As the Washington family grew, everyone participated in activities such as basketball, swimming, baseball, and football. There was one that Curtis loved most, and still does – Fishing! He says he doesn’t care what kind of fish are biting on any given day, he likes to fish for the pure joy of it.
It was on such a day in 2012 that Curtis decided to spend an afternoon on the river. The shore in this spot was rocky and a little difficult to navigate. Our angler wasn’t as close to the water’s edge as he wanted, so with the next cast, he arched his swing as far forward as he could. A flash-moment in time and Curtis lay prone on the rocks, sharp pain shouting that something is very wrong.
When the best medical treatments could not repair damage caused by the fall and stroke, Curtis chose healing of another kind – the restoration of mind and spirit. Our veteran, who has always been a man of faith and action, entered the St. Elizabeth Day Care program where he found the resources he needed to move on.
Move on, he has! In April 2014, Curtis became a resident at the Missouri Veterans Home. A friendly man with a ready smile, Curtis is often seen at Bingo or talking with other residents in the recreation room. We’re coming to know him as a man who is generous with his time and happy to assist wherever he can. It has been my pleasure to work with Mr. Washington in sharing his story with all of you. Thank you, Curtis!
See you at Bingo.
Jon B. Stacey