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VFW post closes doors forever, but remembers the next generation

John Thompson • Updated Oct 10, 2019 at 12:00 AM

ELIZABETHTON — With nearly all of its remaining members now in their 90s, it was time for Post 9629 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Bluff City to return the charter it had held since 1946.

But even with the final closing of its doors, the members again provided for some of the neediest children of the region.

“We got to where there were just five of us still able to meet each month,” said Wade Rumley, who was post commander for 14 years. And one of those five is now in intensive care, after suffering two heart attacks this month.

Rumley said it was a painful decision to close the doors after the May meeting. He said that last meeting wasneration emotional as the members’ wives prepared a supper, as they always did. There was not a dry eye in the house as everyone said their farewells after a lifetime of brotherhood.

One last piece of business the members agreed upon was the divestment of the post. It was an easy business decision.

Over the course of the past several years, the post had already donated nearly $300,000 to some of the neediest children in the area. That included children’s homes and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “We gave about $100,000 to St. Jude,” Rumley said.

So there was no debate when the members decided to sell the post property and donate the proceeds to help children.

The property brought $64,256.98 to the members.

They divided the proceeds, with $30,000 going to St. Jude, $20,000 to the Baptist Children’s Home and $10,000 to the East Tennessee Christian Home and Academy.

The remaining amount went to the Carter County Honor Guard, a group of veterans who voluntarily provide final military honors at the funerals of local veterans, including some who had been members of Post 9629. The honor guard was awarded $4,256.98.

Rumley was proud of all the contributions the post had made over the years.

As a member of Rittertown Baptist Church, he is happy to see some of the money going to help Baptist Children’s Homes. He said he knows of some other members of the post who have committed to leaving their legacy to help the children at St. Jude.

He is also pleased with the donation to the honor guard. Rumley served in the Army for 21 years, and served with the artillery in multiple tours in Vietnam, starting in 1964. He served one of his tours in the 101st Airborne Division.

The Carter County donations were distributed Wednesday morning. Several top leaders of the state VFW joined with Rumley in making the donations, including Jim Irving, state VFW judge advocate, and John Scott, state VFW adjutant/quartermaster. Today, the state commander of the VFW will present the $30,000 donation to St. Jude.

Ron Marvel, director of development and classroom teacher for East Tennessee Christian Home and Academy, was on hand to accept the donation for that institution. He said the money will be used to help with the institution’s day-to-day operations.

He thanked the veterans and said “without dollars like those we wouldn’t be able to continue to help families and children in our area.”

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