July 25, 2016

Partly sunny

Brunswick VFW commander loses beard in bet

Nobody can say Norm Cerny, commander of the Brunswick Veterans of Foreign Post 9520, ever reneged on a bet.

Earlier this year, Cerny promised his 560 members that he would shave his beloved beard if the post was named an “All American Post” by the national Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Vicki Michalske puts the final touches on Norm Cerny’s new look after shaving his beard at the Brunswick Plaza Barbershop on Wednesday morning. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY LOREN GENSON)

On Wednesday, the beard came off.

As pieces of his beard fell onto the floor of the Brunswick Plaza Barbershop, Cerny could only smile as he received gentle ribbing from his fellow VFW leaders.
Jerry Lemons, publicity chair for the VFW post, joked that Cerny might find some benefit in being clean-shaven.

“Think of all the foods you’ll be able to eat, Norm,” he said. “Spaghetti? No problem.”

Cerny’s wife, Harriet, said she was looking forward to his new look.

“He’s so happy he won All-American, I don’t think he minds losing the beard,” she said. “It’s a big thing down at the post, and they’ve been talking about the beard for months.”

While Cerny doesn’t have much to say about losing his beard, he was humble about earning the award.

“Everything we do is because of the citizens of Brunswick,” Cerny said after accepting an award from Brunswick Mayor Gary Werner at a City Council meeting Monday night.

Minutes before his beard was shaved Wednesday, Cerny again said he was grateful for Brunswick’s support in making the post’s fundraising programs so successful.

“We have so many volunteers here. This is really a community award,” he said. “We really have to thank the city.”

Norm Cerny, before his beard is shaved

Cerny also thanked his fellow post members, including Quartermaster Thomas Chester, who helped conduct a membership drive this year that added 25 recruits.

“We have some young people coming in now, veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan,” Chester said. “So that’s good to see.”

Chester and Cerny are headed to a state convention and state awards this weekend.

Chester said he worried Cerny might not be recognized.

“I don’t know if anyone will know who you are when they see you,” Chester said.

The post will pick up its All-American award at the National convention in July.

Cerny said he likely would stay clean-shaven — “at least for a little while.”

To be named an “All-American Post,” all required VFW programs had to be completed:
• Host the Voice of Democracy Essay contest for high school students.
• Host the Patriot’s Pen contest for middle school students.
• Support Eagle Scout projects and award Scouts for achieving the honor of Eagle Scout.
• Have recognition programs for local veterans in nursing homes and assisted living.
• Provide honors for fallen veterans at funeral homes and the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery.
• Prepare and send care packages to veterans serving overseas.
• Provide assistance for veterans in need of financial support.
• Recognize and award outstanding educator, firefighter and police officer of the year.
• Provide guardians to men and women who take an “honor flight” to see the World War II Memorial and other sites in Washington, D.C.
• Donate to charities, including USO, St. Jude and American Red Cross.
• Provide transportation for veterans’ doctor visits.
• Provide treats at hospitals for men and women at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.
• Conduct the annual poppy drive to raise money for veterans in need.
• Provide a fundraiser for national military services.
• Meet membership quotas and retain membership.
• Provide Veterans Day and Memorial Day programs in schools, nursing homes and VA hospitals.
• Provide wheelchairs, walkers and other items to veterans.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.