Jim Saddler was a man who had his priorities in order. When it came to the Christmas season, he had a one-track mind, serving those who served their country. Thus the Nursing Home Veterans Christmas Party began at American Legion Post 23 in Portsmouth. Saddler passed away in 2015, and his wife, Jane Saddler and his son Rich Saddler, and others have kept the event and the tradition alive.
On Wednesday, the James R. Saddler Veterans Christmas Party again saw scores of nursing home veterans and their caregivers honored at Post 23.
“I think we have got more actual nursing home residents here this year than we normally have,” Jane Saddler said. “I don’t know what it is but we’re just poppin’ right along here.”
Saddler said she never considered not continuing the party.
“How can I not? This was Jim’s dream many, many, many years ago, and since he’s not with us, to me it just keeps his memory alive within our family too and all of his friends that still miss him,” Saddler said. “He was a different type of guy. I am in awe of everything today.”
Ron Chapman, State of Ohio Legion Commander was on hand for the festivities.
“I started coming down here probably eight, nine or 10 years ago, and got to know Jim Saddler, and once you know Jim, of course, he never forgot a name or a face, I don’t think,” Chapman said. “He tried to keep us involved with an invitation every year, and I really look forward to coming down because this is what we’re about, taking care of the community, and being community oriented through our organization. It’s good for our organization to see a community come together in an effort like this one.”
A home-cooked meal was served and Santa Claus was present to give gifts to each of the veterans. Jane Saddler said each veteran got what he or she asked for.
Irvin Deutchman, a Concord Health and Rehab Center veteran remembers exactly how long he served in the United State’s Army.
“Three years, eight months and two days,” Deutchman said. “I was in the commo (communications) section.”
Deutchman was enjoying the camaraderies of other veterans at his table.
“This is the third year,” Deutchman said. “I love this thing.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.