Surprised and honored are the words Lois Skidmore used to describe her reaction after being named the 2011 Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary Outstanding President of the Year.
Skidmore, who has deep ties to North Ridgeville VFW Post 9871, received the award at a June 22 ceremony in Independence. She won for representing Ohio VFW District 9, which consists of 26 posts in Erie, Huron, Lorain, Ottawa, Sandusky and Seneca counties.
The award means a lot to Skidmore, but she is quick to point out she couldn’t have done it without the help of the other Ladies Auxiliary members.
“I don’t feel like I did anything outstanding or exceptional,” she said. “But, of course, they chose me and that is an honor within itself, but I think all the ladies have done their work.”
Ladies Auxiliary members attend a winter conference in January where they turn in paperwork detailing the community service projects with which they have been involved, Skidmore said. They then attend a summer conference where awards for service are distributed.
She stressed the VFW is a service organization – not just a social club where old men gather to drink and tell war stories.
“We do a lot of good things for the community,” Skidmore said. “We had this bad image for years that we’re just a bunch of old alcoholics sitting around a bar drinking, and we aren’t. We do so many things … like helping Community Care, for example.”
An additional project the Ladies Auxiliary has been working on is care packages for the troops.
“That’s another thing I think is just awesome,” Skidmore said. “We send packages to the troops every month. We box them and send them to the troops in Afghanistan.”
One of Skidmore’s favorite activities has always been her involvement with the Voice of Democracy contests. She had strong words of praise for this year’s winner, Amanda Chow of Lake Ridge Academy.
She even exhibited a humble grace, suggesting she may have received the Outstanding President Award because of Chow’s hard work.
“I feel like they look for certain things,” Skidmore said of winning the award for District 9. “I think that maybe because Amanda Chow did such a wonderful job, maybe that was impressive to them.”
Skidmore has been a member of the Ladies Auxiliary for 10 years. She served as president for the past four years, recently stepping down in June, and was replaced by Joan Exum.
“She really deserved it,” Exum said of Skidmore’s award. “Talk about shock. She didn’t expect it, and we didn’t know it either. When they called her name, she just froze. That was the best way for her to be an outgoing president, receiving such an honor.”
Although a decade of commitment to something like the Ladies Auxiliary is no small feat, Skidmore’s ties to Post 9871 and North Ridgeville span much further. She was born in a small house that is now located on the Dettore Farm, and her family eventually purchased several parcels of land near the eastern corners of Lear Nagle and Chestnut Ridge roads. Although her father was not a member of the service, he sold to a friend for $1 in 1966 some of the land on which Post 9871 is located.
When her brother, Glen Winterfield, was sent to war in the 1960s, their father got him a membership at Post 9871.
“When Vietnam broke out, and my brother went, my Dad made him a member,” Skidmore explained. “I don’t think my brother really had an interest in the VFW until he came back because he didn’t know what was going on.”
Winterfield served in the Navy, and Skidmore ultimately became a member of the Ladies Auxiliary under his name. She gets choked up just mentioning him.
“I’m sorry, I have to cry,” she said, while getting up to grab a tissue. “He’s passed on. I think he died of that Agent Orange, and now his wife is dying of cancer.”
Her brother, and others like him, is one reason Skidmore is a Ladies Auxiliary member. Skidmore’s husband Glen, who served in the Navy, said he’s proud of his wife’s service with the Ladies Auxiliary.
“She deserved it,” he said. “She’s worked very hard.”
The Ladies Auxiliary is …
… involved in a wide array of service activities, including assistance through fundraising and support to those battling cancer; food programs; promoting patriotism through the Voice of Democracy contest; hospital visits; selling buddy poppies made by hospitalized veterans; and legislative activities on behalf of veterans’ rights and benefits.
MEN’S AUXILIARY POST 9871 *INSTITUTED 2003
EIGHT YEARS OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE
Retiring President: Steve Mace
Installing Officer: Jack Uber
President: Steve Mace
Sr. Vice President: Phil Meador
Jr. Vice President: Jerry Snyder
Treasurer: Terry Richards
Secretary: Cliff Kirsch
Guard: Bill Rankin
Chaplain: Dave Smith
Trustees: Brad Conley, John Bales, Wendell Babson
LADIES AUXILIARY VFW POST 9871 *INSTITUTED OCTOBER 29, 1966
FORTY-FIVE YEARS OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE
Retiring President: Lois Skidmore
Installing Officer: Alyce Coon
President: Joan Exum
Sr. Vice President: Lois Skidmore
Jr. Vice President: Charlotteann Maser
Treasurer: Pat Uber
Secretary: Sharron Richards
Chaplain: Norma Urbanski
Conductress: Jeanette Smith
Guard: Margaret Emerick
Three Year Trustee: Nubby Greer
Historian: Janice Pettit
Color Bearer #1: Gloria Schultz
Color Bearer #2: Marian Halagan
Color Bearer #3: Nuby Greer
Color Bearer #4: Alyce Coon
NORTH RIDGEVILLE VFW POST 9871 *INSTITUTED APRIL 17, 1966
FORTY FIVE YEARS OF CONTINUOUS SERVICE”
Retiring Commander: Ernie Cantley
Installing Officer: Jack Uber
Sr. Vice Commander: Jim Hordinski
Jr. Vice Commander: Howard Emerick
Quartermaster – Adjutant: Roger Hoy
Judge Advocate: Don Barnes
Chaplain: Jack Uber
Surgeon: Paul McElhaney
Officer of the Day: Don Brooks
Guard: Tony Cioffoletti
3 Year Trustee: Sarah Markle
3 Year House Committee: Don Mellinger