Brunswick resident Jerry Lemons said his call to serve his community was formed when he was a child helping his family support the troops during World War II.
“I grew up during World War II and I watched my uncles go off to war,” he said. “We were all involved in the community in supporting the war effort, there was a tremendous effort by every American.”
Lemons continues to serve World War II veterans and other elderly members of the community, and on Tuesday, he was honored by the Cleveland Clinic with the Community Service Award for his volunteer work at Medina Hospital and throughout the community.
Lemons, a retired Air Force veteran, is a member of the Brunswick Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9520 and the American Legion Post 234.
He visits patients at the Veterans Affairs hospital, drives local veterans to medical appointments and works with the Cleveland chapter of Honor Flight, a nonprofit dedicated to enabling veterans to see war memorials in Washington, D.C., free of charge. Lemons said it’s less work and more reward and he gets to meet amazing people.
“Our seniors are treasures, whether they’re vets or former coal workers or teachers, they all have stories to tell,” Lemons said.
Lemons said one senior who helps transport to medical appointments is Frank Ryan, 96. During their visits, Lemons learned Ryan knew John F. Kennedy.
“Kennedy’s roommate in college was a friend of Frank’s,” Lemons said, recalling a story Ryan told him about giving Kennedy a lift in the back of his car. “These guys share these great stories with me.”
In addition to working with the elderly in nursing homes, Lemons is also a Eucharistic minister at St. Ambrose parish, bringing communion to those who are sick and unable to attend church.
“I visit with the homebound, and I’m privileged to hold their hands and meet with them,” he said.
Lemons said his volunteer work wouldn’t be possible without the help of his wife of 55 years, Shirley.
“She’s been really precious,” he said. “She’s been a wonderful lady who lets me be away from home for so many things.”
When asked how he stays so involved in caring for others, Lemons said it’s simple.
“Life’s been really good to me, I’m just trying to give back,” he said.
Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.