Community holds surprise party for WWII veteran, 92

2013-09-22T19:45:00Z 2013-09-22T22:47:06Z Community holds surprise party for WWII veteran, 92Susan O'Leary Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
September 22, 2013 7:45 pm  • 

PORTAGE | There was lots of thanks going around at a party Sunday at the Port Crossing Apartments clubhouse.

Wes Berrier, 92, a World War II veteran, was honored at “Thanking Wes,” a party organized by a group of local women.

Jen Kerr, of Valparaiso; Nicole Oswald, of Portage; Becky Krieger, of Crown Point; and Judy Alders, of Valparaiso, put the party together to celebrate Berrier’s service to the country.

But Berrier also was thankful for the women, who recently helped him downsize from a two-bedroom to a one-bedroom apartment in the complex.

Berrier’s wife, Frances, died in June 2012, and the veteran found himself with bills to pay and little assistance getting back on his feet.

“I took out the TV, disconnected my long distance (telephone service) and stopped using the air conditioner,” Berrier said. “I didn’t figure on living this long.”

Kerr and Oswald became aware of Berrier’s situation, and in August they organized a group to help him move and generate financial assistance.

The group moved Berrier, provided him with home-cooked meals, bought new sheets and towels for him, and raised enough money to pay for his rent and living expenses for six months, Kerr said.

“A whole lot of generous people pitched in for him,” she said.

Krieger, whose mother sews for Quilts of Valor, an organization that provides handmade quilts to veterans as gratitude for their service, presented a red, white and blue quilt to Berrier at the party.

“This quilt is stitched with love, prayer and healing thought,” Krieger said. “We’re thankful for your service and valor.”

Berrier was overcome with gratitude for all the group had done for him.

“I certainly do thank you for this,” Berrier said. “You people are the greatest — all of you.”

“I’ve never had anything like these things ... happened to me,” Berrier said. “You helped me out when I dearly needed it. It changed my whole mental attitude about the whole ball of wax.

“I’m only 92,” Berrier said. “I’ve still got a lot of living to do.”

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