Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

November 6, 2012

Volunteers rebuild veteran’s house after his death

Mester’s family received welcome break from expenses

JENNINGS, Fla. — South Georgia veteran Jack Mester may have passed away more than two months ago, but with the help of Sons of the American Legion and Valdosta Veterans First, his final wish is still in the process of being carried out.

Mester’s wife has lupus and diabetes, his daughter has epilepsy and his mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s disease when she was alive. Medical expenses were already high when he was diagnosed with cancer six years ago, and their house in the country just north of the Florida line fell into disrepair.

The floors were bad, the roof was leaky, and because of limbs falling into the house more than once, insurance companies wouldn’t insure the mobile home. But volunteers from American Legion Post 13 have given the house a complete makeover—new hardwood floors to replace old carpeting, a new roof, new flowerbeds and a new sturdy wooden ramp to the front porch.

While all the repairs are necessary, the ramp and dark-colored flooring are the favorites of Dawn Mester, his wife. The work completed Saturday was “beyond imagination” for her, and she wasn’t expecting the ramp.

“They said, ‘We’re not just thinking about Jack’,” Mester said. “ ‘We’re thinking about you in the future.’ Eventually, I will need it.”

Most of the materials were donated by the Home Depot Distribution Center, including the flooring and a gift card for $1,600. Volunteers have paid about $750 out of pocket, according to Joe Wetherington of Valdosta Veterans First.

After caring for her husband at home during his decline in health over the last few weeks of his life, the repairs are a welcome relief to the Mester family. While Jack Mester “had his mind about him,” in the words of his wife, he did require assistance to get through his daily routine.

As he was dying from the 30 tumors in his liver, after doctors had removed his esophagus and part of his stomach, his greatest worry was that he would be a burden to his family. Luckily, Valdosta Veterans First contacted him in time to offer some reassurance.

“This project put a lot of peace in his mind,” Mester said. “We’d never heard of Veterans First. For those people to be in our lives, God must have sent them this way.”

The volunteers talked to Jack Mester more than two weeks before his death to announce that they wanted to help with the house repairs.

Mester served in the Air Force as a staff sergeant for 20 years. After retiring, he found work at Ivan Allen Workspace, before it was bought out by Staples, Dawn Mester said.

“Jack never met a stranger,” Mester said. “He was from New Jersey. The people he met said they got many laughs off of Jack. He would call the ditch the gully, and different things like that. And teaching him how to be outside. He was a city boy.”

Jack Mester was very proud of his “worm bed” business out of his back yard, raising and selling earthworms as fishing bait, Dawn said.

“If you met him, you felt like you’d known him all his life,” Mester said. “He didn’t lose that New Jersey.”

Mester’s family was excited to see the volunteers at work Saturday, but work is far from finished. There is still roofing to be installed, flooring to be laid, and volunteers are still searching for a central air conditioning unit to replace the old one.

“To see the people that were here Saturday—I mean young people!—you can’t do anything but walk away with a blessing,” Mester said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • doug henderson.jpg Memorial tourney returns

    The Doug Henderson III Memorial Golf Tournament has raised thousands of dollars for scholarship funds and to help organizations throughout the region.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914-WA-Egghunt021.jpg Park puts wild spin on Easter tradition

    Adventurous egg hunters braved overcast skies and a persistent drizzle to search for hidden prizes Saturday during Wild Adventure’s first Ostrich Egg Hunt.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • FallenTree003.JPG More spills reported

    City of Valdosta employees have spent the weekend responding to spills caused by several inches of rain that have again drenched the city during the past few days.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Underwater Easter_Rich copy.jpg Stories behind ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’

    Christ comes from the Greek word, “Christos,” meaning “the anointed one.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140418_valwood001.jpg Valwood students register to vote

    Valwood teaches its students about the importance of voting. Each year, the school has encouraged eligible seniors to register to vote and participate in local elections.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • wadebrandon14.jpg Police still seeking missing mother, son

    Though their assignments have changed during the past dozen years, Valdosta Police Capt. Bobbi McGraw and Sgt. Chris Crews continue working the case of a missing mother and her son.

    April 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • 041814-TreeDownonRobinHood.jpg Minor flooding expected

    Minor flooding of the Withlacoochee River is expected this weekend thanks to the day-long rains across South Georgia Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041814-TreeDownonRobinHood.jpg Wastewater hazards assessed

    During heavy rain events, five to 15 manholes throughout the city are at risk of overflowing into local waterways, according to the City of Valdosta.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140418-VSU_HSBA003.jpg Valdosta State cuts ribbon for health, business building

    Eighteen months after breaking ground on the project, Valdosta State University held the official ribbon cutting Friday for its Health Sciences and Business Administration Building.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140417-Rail_Plan-001.jpg State Transportation seeks public input on rail plan

    The Georgia Department of Transportation held public meetings across the state this week to discuss its 2014 Georgia State Rail Plan.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results