Posted on August 23, 2018
Ontario OH – The Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging Inc. is proud to announce Don Wilson has been selected as the 2018 Outstanding Senior Citizen for Marion County. He and eight other recipients were honored on Thursday, Aug. 23 at a ceremony hosted at Hawkins Corner.
“This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me,” said Wilson. “I’m very humbled by it.”
Wilson was nominated by Steve Badertscher from the Marion Senior Center. In his nomination he shared that five years ago, Wilson flew to Washington DC as a participant in the Honor Flight program and has since become the program’s biggest advocate. At 94 years old, he is the only World War II veteran that volunteers on the “Ground Crew” of the Honor Flight program in Columbus.
Having served in the Navy Aviation unit as a tail gunner and radio operator on a TBM Avenger during WW II, Wilson has earned the title of “Chief Mingler” from North Central Ohio Honor Flight Coordinator John Shore. Shore says this is due to his easy-going nature and ability to greet and relate to Honor Flight participants, especially those who might be a little bit apprehensive about making the long trip.
Shore also appreciates the energy Wilson puts into promoting the Honor Flight program throughout the year, accompanying him on speaking engagements and presentations to schools, organizations, and service clubs to help spread the word about Honor Flight. Shore claims Wilson is also his “Chief Recruiter”, having sought out, informed, and encouraged over 50 fellow vets to register for the Honor Flight trip over the years.
Wilson was also a dedicated volunteer on the Marion Senior Citizens Association board of directors, having recently completed his second consecutive three-year term. He is a member of American Legion and active in his church, Genesis. He attends US Naval reunions every year and is one of only about a dozen vets still alive and able to do so.
Wilson also received commendations from the Marion County Commissioners and was honored by Badertscher as well.
“He’s been a tremendous asset to the [senior] center, a great ambassador as well to the military,” said Badertscher during the ceremony. “You couldn’t find a more honorable person to honor today.”
Each year the Area Agency on Aging honors senior citizens who are making a difference in their communities and present a positive image of aging.
There is one award recipient for each county in the Agency’s service area (Ashland, Crawford, Huron, Knox, Marion, Morrow, Richland, Seneca, and Wyandot.)
Awardees must first be nominated by an individual or organization involved with seniors. They are then selected by the Agency based on the impact of their contributions and accomplishments within the community made after reaching age 60.
Additionally, the following residents of Marion County received the 2018 Safe Driver Award at the ceremony: Bruce Burchette, Chuck Custer, Dick Gorenflo, Steve Longberry, and Bill White.
The Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging, Inc., located at 2131 Park Avenue West in Ontario, provides leadership, collaboration, coordination and services to older adults, people with disabilities, their caregivers & resource networks that support individual choice, independence and dignity.