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VFW Auxiliary may disband

Longtime president steps down, no one steps up

Staff writer

For 68 years, the Ladies Auxiliary for VFW Post No. 6958 in Marion has supported veterans with items taken to hospitals and has helped organize a multitude of community services.

The auxiliary is in danger of disbanding.

When longtime president Donna Kreutziger announced earlier this year that she was stepping down after 10 years of active leadership in the group, no one from among the group’s membership, which was dwindled from a high of about 190 to 96, stepped forward to replace her.

Now, a vote is scheduled for June 9 on whether the unit should continue or dissolve. The outcome could mark the end of a tradition.

“I’m not expecting anyone to step up,” Kreutziger said. “That doesn’t mean it won’t happen though.”

Kreutziger joined the post in July 1996 when her husband Warren was commander of the post. She served as post conductress eight years prior to becoming president.

“I’ve been doing this for too long. I’m falling apart,” Kreutziger said. “My knees are going haywire. I’m getting them replaced soon.”

Still, she regrets saying goodbye to an organization and tradition her mother-in-law helped set up, and she wishes she could continue, but paired with child care and other responsibilities, she will not be able to give the organization the attention she says it deserves.

October 2015 would be 69 years since the auxiliary formed, Kreutziger said. Peggy Summerville is its only living original charter member.

Mary Ford, post secretary, said many members’ health and age had caught up with them.

“It’s been a tough decision, but we saw it coming. Some older ladies don’t like to drive at night. Others feel out of the loop,” Ford said. “We’ve been doing things online, and it’s harder for some to keep up with technology.”

If the group disbands, Ford worries about not seeing friends as often.

“We’re like a lot of older organizations. There are just a handful of people doing things,” Ford said. “It’s always the same people.”

Post treasurer Pauline Holub became a member 10 years ago. Of the 96 members, she said, only six to eight regularly help with projects.

“When I took over as treasurer three years ago there were about 120 members,” Holub said. “Numbers have dropped, partially due to death. It’s only $25 a year, but some just don’t want to continue their membership.”

Event attendance and meal production has also become a problem.

“I think it is a sign of the times,” Holub said. “Our profit is less and less, and our expenses keep going up.

“It’s sad really. Donna has done a superb job as president, but you can’t go around begging people to participate, and you can’t do everything if you’re not going to get the support. If you do, then you’re just fluttering in the wind.”

Ford thinks younger women don’t join or step up because of responsibilities related to school and sporting events.

Kreutziger knows some younger women who could join but instead volunteer with other groups and church organizations.

“Maybe people won’t realize there’s a need until we’re gone,” Kreutziger said.

If the auxiliary disbands, Kreutziger foresees an impact on the community.

The auxiliary’s main purpose was to support the VFW post.

It also donated to Marion’s Community Christmas and was host for the Patriot’s Pen, a Voice of Democracy contest.

The organization’s funds have supported the national auxiliary and VFW National Home for Children.

It paid for materials to make bibs distributed to St. Luke Hospital Auxiliary and assisted with Boy Scout programs.

Probably the more visible activities have been Memorial Day services at Marion Cemetery and a meal, as well as Buddy Poppy sales on Old Settlers’ Day.

Last modified May 27, 2015

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