Readers of the Week: LaRues continue to serve
GOSHEN, Aug 05, 2012 (Menafn - Goshen News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Jim and Carol LaRue graduated from Goshen High School in the 1940s, married in 1949 and raised two sons here.
Jim served in World War II in the Army Air Corps and had a career with Northern Indiana Public Service Co. while serving in leadership roles at the Goshen American Legion and at Plymouth United Church of Christ, where they were married.
Jim said he left high school and joined the Air Corps in 1943. He had basic training in Texas, then gunnery practice at Las Vegas and flight training at Dyersburg, Tenn. "We really got together as a crew," he said.
Because of bad weather, it took his crew two weeks to get to England, and as a tail gunner in a B-17, he flew 31 missions over Germany, including two over Berlin, he said.
"None of our crew got hurt," he said. "It was a miracle."
On one of his very first missions, as he was loading his stuff into the plane, a man showed up in a Jeep and handed him a box. It contained a movie camera and the guy wanted Jim to film flak in the air during the mission.
After the mission, he came back to get the camera, "but there were no pictures. I was too scared to shoot it," Jim said.
He was discharged in Texas after declining to re-enlist. "I wanted to go home," he said. He finished high school in 1946 and began working at Honeycrust Bread making bread dough and doughnuts.
One day his friend Burnell Clark said he was going to interview for work with NIPSCO, and Jim went along. He got a job and worked 37 years at various jobs. He retired in 1983.
"I'm getting the hang of it now," he said of retirement.
Jim had an older sister and younger brother, but both are deceased. His first job, when he was 8 or 10 years old, was helping a man deliver milk with a horse-drawn rig. It was interesting that the horse knew where to stop, he said.
Jim met Carol in 1947 and they were married in 1949. They will celebrate 63 years of marriage this fall.
Carol was born in Harrison Township, started school at the one-room schoolhouse, the Jonesville School, at C.R. 7 and 30. The building is now a house, she said. She walked a mile and one half to school, but on really rainy days, students could stay home.
"We had more fun. Those were some of the best days of my life," she said. She remembers teachers were David Bechtel and a Mr. Leinbach. She then moved to Millersburg, where they had buses, then finished at Goshen from junior high on.
Carol has two brothers and a sister. They are Ron, Goshen, Bill, Plainfield, and Joan, Middletown, Conn.
Carol explained she began working for a dentist in the summer of 1948.
"I did everything," she said, including book work and cleaning the office. This was before people had health insurance, she said. She even took patients home in the doctor's Buick Dynaflow. Some of the residents did not speak English and lived in primitives homes with dirt floors, she said.
Besides raising her family, Carol worked with the local Republican Party for about 40 years, serving at GOP headquarters and worked on the first Senate campaign for Richard Lugar.
"I enjoyed it. But it is a big change today," she said.
Carol said she enjoys reading and has enjoyed history since high school. "I had a good history teacher," she said. And the couple has enjoyed traveling in about every state in the Union.
Jim is a long-time member of the Goshen American Legion, where he served as commander four times. Carol was also very active in the auxiliary.
Jim said he started serving at veterans' funerals in 1972, when he only folded the American flag and presented it to widows and families. He said fellow Legion member Jack Pangburn asked him to serve at a funeral and he has done the honor since.
Jim later joined the Goshen Veterans Honor Guard, made up of members of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans. Since he started keeping records in 2002, the group has served at 658 funerals. Jim has also played Taps since 2002 on a bugle at these events and others.
"At one time we had 25 guys active in the group," he said. "We are down to 21 on the list and need 14 to 16 at a time" to conduct the service. "A week and a half ago, we had 12 funerals in seven days. It has been a week since we have had one," he said this week.
The group serves veterans across the region, from Ligonier to Edwardsburg, Mich., but would prefer to stay near Goshen.
"We would rather stay here. If they ask us, we go," he said.
The couple has been members of Plymouth United Church of Christ since 1952, after they were married there in 1949.
They raised two sons, Michael, Morley, Mich., and Jon, Millersburg. They have two grandsons and two granddaughters.
After Jim retired, he said, there was still plenty of work to do. He explained that he drove cars for Showalter Buick, delivered travel trailers for Jayco across the country and served as a courier for NBD bank.
Jim began playing golf in 1957 and won several local tournaments. He has been a member of Maplecrest Country Club and is now a member of Black Squirrel.
For several years they spent part of winters in Florida, but have not gone the past seven years.
But they must might hitch a ride and return this winter, Carol said.
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