Dr. Jerel F. Eaton - Lakeland North Rotary
In 1925 four year old Leland Crawford, of Watertown, NY, was found abandoned in an apartment. A representative of a visiting nurses association found him while on a call at a neighboring apartment. He could not walk as, he was crippled by a vertebral disease. This pitiful case was brought to the attention of William M. Jones, President of the Watertown Rotary Club. Funds, were raised to send Leland to the West Haverstraw Hospital. For the next two years he was treated in the hospital by Dr. M.M. Gardener. He was placed in an aluminum cast and with fresh air, sunshine, good food and medical care he was restored to normal and could once again walk. All expenses and funding was covered by the Watertown Rotary Club.
Leland joined the Army during WWII. During the war he served with the The First Army Division as a Combat Engineer. He was in a unit that was among the first to assault Normandy Beach. He was wounded and received the Purple Heart. He was awarded numerous other awards including the Presidential Unit Citation and the Luxenburg Medal of Honor. He also was in the Battle of the Bulge. He was honorably discharged after attaining the rank of Sergeant.
He met and married Louise in 1955 and together they gave foster care to over 200 foster children. During this time he was in the lumber business.
Members of Lakeland North Rotary Club (LNR), Lakeland, Florida first met Lee and Louise at our annual "Salute To Veterans" breakfast held in November of 2009. Our club of approximately 30 members annually hosts 75 -100 Vets for a complimentary breakfast and appropriate veterans program. Sgt. Crawford was there in his "Ike" jacket (it fits) and medals.
Unfortunately (as with many War 2 Vets) his health is failing. His wife contacted me and reported that due to leg weakness he needed a lift chair and that money was a problem. LNR funded this and we had a chair in his home within 2 weeks. Now wheelchair bound, he needed a ramp to get from his home to their vehicle. With LNR funding the materials and volunteers from the Center for Independent Living doing the labor a two tiered built to code ramp was constructed.
So there we have 86 years of Rotary service and influence. Watertown Rotary 1925-1927 helping a crippled child who regained his health and grew up to be a war hero and a foster co-parent.
Lakeland North Rotary 2010-2011 helping to keep him, in his later years, as comfortable and ambulatory as possible.
ROTARY WAS/IS THERE!