At the American Legion Post #241 on February 6, the parking lot was full, the hall was crowded and the tables were full of tempting food.
But it wasn’t one of the many happy events the post, at 7605 Bluffton Road usually hosts. It was the occasion of one of the Women’s Auxiliary Presidents, Helen Levy’s funeral and wake.
Levy, 73, passed away January 28 of lung cancer, and had her service at Elzey-Patterson-Rodak Funeral Home, 6810 Old Trail Road. She was a past-President of the Post’s Women’s Auxiliary five times over the past few years, last in 2003.
According to Teresa Zuber, the current Auxiliary President, it was Levy’s duty, as Auxiliary President, to help the Auxiliary Unit do “whatever we can do to support every veteran we can.” That included fund-raising, dinners, just having fun, and, Zuber said, “keeping the guys in line.”
The main goal, she said, is to socialize at the club, and to support the U.S. military, whether they be active duty, retired, or just out-of-service.
“It’s damn near become a full-time job,” Zuber explained, “but we all work full-time at other jobs while we’re doing it.”
After the service at about 1 p.m., Legion members filed into the Post building, most in dark suits and dresses, some of the gentlemen sporting black ties with American Legion emblems on the bottom.
Eyes red from tears, their heads bowed in mourning, the Post members hugged each other for comfort and spoke quietly amongst themselves.
Large buffet tables of food were set up for mourners in the Post’s back room, while the Draping of the Charter was displayed in the front room. By ritual, the passing Post member’s picture is displayed on a wooden stand, just below a framed copy of the Post charter. A host of white poppies is arranged around the stand, and a black scarf-like cloth is draped over the charter and the photo.
The display remains in the Post’s entranceway for 30 days after the funeral, and then the charter is returned to a wall in the front of the building, along with the passing member’s photo, which now will be displayed on a wall with all the other past-Presidents, with a black ribbon and a gold star affixed to the photo to denote that they are deceased.
Remembrances of Levy were fond, as folks recalled her warm nature, her love of bowling and her adoration of cats, which she owned four: Heidi, Sam, Jake and Pete.
She often bragged of her love for kitties with her multiple cat sweatshirts, her cat earrings, and if people didn’t like it, “that was too damn bad,” according to Diane Martz-Stowe, the current Post secretary and a past-President of the Women’s Auxiliary.
Levy is survived by her husband, Kenneth Holloway; her sons, Robert and Sean Levy; her daughter, Kelly Harlan; eight grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her son, Billy Joe.
The service was a solemn one, Martz-Stowe said, as folks said their last goodbyes to a dearly beloved President and much-loved lady.
“It was a real tribute to her,” Zuber said, “and there wasnot nearly enough time to tell all the wonderful things that this woman has done. It’s just a big void, and it will be very difficult to replace her.”