The LaPorte Salvation Army on Thursday will cut the ribbon to a newly remodeled facility made by possible by a six-figure donation in the will of late businessman Charlie Dye.
For those who were close to Dye, his gift is not surprising for a man who liked to tell stories about coming to LaPorte from Tennessee without enough money to even afford a toothbrush.
“He never forgot the people who helped him as he got on his feet and built his business in LaPorte,” said Leigh Morris, mayor from 2004 to 2007. Morris is a former president and chief executive officer at LaPorte Hospital.
Greg Irwin, who heads up the Salvation Army in LaPorte, said there were much smaller amounts from private contributors but it was Dye's gift that made the sorely needed $800,000 remodeling possible.
“We thank Charlie Dye and we thank his family so very much,” Irwin said.
Several years ago, the Salvation Army moved into the facility at 3240 Monroe St., originally built for the LaPorte Fraternal Order of Police.
Irwin said the building was a big improvement over the cramped structure the Salvation Army had been in for decades on State Street downtown.
The new structure, although a major upgrade, was mostly wide open forcing offices that lacked privacy to be created with partitions.
Irwin said there are six permanent offices along with rooms for Sunday school and conference rooms from the remodeling which started in September.
“I now have an office with a door on it that I didn't have before,” said his wife, Bethany Irwin.
Other features include a new chapel and space for the organization's youth ministry, he said.
Charlie Dye founded Dye Plumbing and Heating in 1939.
He died in 2002 at the age of 91.
The business still exists but no longer is in the hands of the Dye family.
Morris said Dye received help from the Salvation Army after first arriving in LaPorte.
Morris described Dye as someone always willing to lend advice and ready to open his checkbook for many local causes, including the hospital, Morris said.
“He was generous in so many ways. A lot of people don't know all of the things Charlie Dye did to help this community,” Morris said.
There will be a dedication ceremony Thursday at 3 p.m. followed by a ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m.
Tours of the facility open to the general public will follow.
“It's exciting to see what's happening with the building,” Irwin said.
The ceremonies will include an award to Door Village United Methodist Church Pastor Billy Nickrand who broke a record by ringing a bell during the holidays for 60 consecutive hours, raising more than $6,000 for the LaPorte Salvation Army.