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At 90, Willis Cole told family he was ready to die, he just wanted to be among men and women who, like himself, were U.S. Veterans. Willis’ daughter Debora Asbury heard about the Stein Hospice unit at the Ohio Veterans Home in Georgetown and Willis was moved there in late August of this year.
A few hours after admission Debora walked into his room and he was sitting up in bed, all smiles. "I’m home with my own kind," he told her. Willis died eight days later.
"I would like to thank each and every one of you for allowing my dad to come ‘home’ and die with dignity. And in all honesty I am reluctant to call you staff for everyone dad and I met seemed like old friends," Debora wrote in a letter to Stein.
Like many World War II Veterans, Willis rarely talked about his military service. The Kentucky native joined the Navy, was aboard the USS Hamilton and fought in the Battle of Okinawa. He contracted malaria and suffered severe burns on his feet and legs, an injury which plagued Willis all his life. So did night terrors, Debora said.
Willis, a retired steel worker from the Columbus area, took pride in his appearance and shaved daily, regardless of his schedule for the day. When the Stein nurse offered to shave Willis as he was nearing death, Debora said it was like the nurse had read her mind, and probably her dad’s too. "My heart soared. Money couldn’t buy that," she said.
Eleanor Happel was a mother of four and the widow of the late Rev. R. Happel. Throughout her life she volunteered and was honored with multiple prestigious awards. Eleanor gave many hours to her favorite organizations, including American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels and Care and Share.
When Eleanor fell sick in March of 2009, she made her wishes known that she wanted to remain independent and stay in her Sandusky home.
"Stein made that possible and stepped up when it really mattered" said her daughter Barbara Pamer. Barbara described Stein’s care as gracious and very responsive to all of the family’s requests.
Eleanor died a year later, just weeks before her 92nd birthday.
Barbara remembers her mother’s request to listen to hymnal music throughout the day and night. "The nurses were there to keep her comfortable, even if that just meant restarting the CD throughout the night," Barbara said. "The little things are what made her care extraordinary."
Henry Van Dame was a Korean War veteran who served as a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army. After the war he became Cuyahoga County Deputy Sheriff, where he worked from 1980 until 1996. Henry was always a people person and loved children. He and his wife Dorothy, who died in 1999, had one child.
Henry was diagnosed with dementia in April 2009 and eventually became a Stein patient at the Ohio Veterans Home. He died in May 2009 at the age of 78.
Henry’s son, Ray Van Dame, a Parma native, said at first they were hesitant to seek care in Sandusky due to the distance from home.
"I ended up really looking forward to the visits despite the location," Ray said of his father’s time with Stein Hospice. "It was always just me and dad, so when the nurses at Stein came to help out it was like we had a family again. And they took care of him like family."
Holsey Rucker Jr. was a hard worker who loved to be around people. Among his jobs, the Wellington native worked as a horse trainer, police officer and head of security at Ford’s Avon Lake plant, where he retired in 2002.
Holsey was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in 2006 and died last year, after spending six weeks at Stein’s in-patient care center. He was 64 years old.
Terrence Ransom Sr., who lives in California and spent several weeks at the care center with his step-father, writes:
"Saying thank you is nowhere enough for the help, and tireless work that the staff at Stein Hospice provided for my dad. I have been encouraged to volunteer at a hospice care center so that I may provide a smile, kind word, prayer, an ear to listen, read a story or a shoulder to cry on, or with. These are just some of the services that the staff at Stein gave my dad."
Carl Uhinck was admitted to Stein Hospice’s care center on March 30 and his family began making funeral arrangements. But the 99-year-old Marblehead man had other plans.
“He kept improving day to day,” says his daughter Judy Sency.
Within a few weeks Carl was moved to a skilled nursing facility and his family now began making birthday plans. Carl turned 100 years old on May 13 and a few days later he celebrated his milestone birthday surrounded by family.
His daughter Judy sent us a photograph and this message:
“Because you all made such a positive difference in his life and our entire families, I wanted to share our joy-filled celebration of his 100 years of life. On May 17th, 68 of us (almost all 10 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and 9 great-great grandchildren) gathered for a fishing derby at Lockwood Shelter in East Harbor State Park. He had a wonderful time. We give thanks to God for that day of family fun and love.”
Wayne “Bud” Harmon loved to work and during his lifetime he held a variety of jobs, from selling insurance to operating Bud’s Place. But the jobs he loved the most were the ones that took him outdoors, like working on the grounds at Cedar Point.
“He was very special to me,” said Wayne’s niece, Karen Cassidy, who also lives in Sandusky and often visited her uncle.
Despite health ailments, Wayne continued to be active until he was hospitalized with an upper respiratory illness in February. The 88-year-old man grew worse and his doctor suggested Stein Hospice. Even though Wayne was only a hospice patient for three days, the care he received made a big difference, Karen said.
"I was able to come home at night to sleep, knowing that he was in good hands. They watched over him, made sure he was comfortable. They talked to me so I was better able to understand what was happening. I cannot say enough about the care and compassion I witnessed and experienced with your nurses. You provide a wonderful service. Thank you."