Tyner-Ford honors tradition of auxiliary|[3/14/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

Women dressed in red filled the room at the American Legion Tyner-Ford Post 213 on Main Street Saturday evening. But they and others were there to honor the women dressed in white.

They are the women who came together, alongside their husbands, brothers and fathers, 57 years ago to create a women’s auxiliary for the post. In 1948, shortly after the Legionnaires received their temporary charter, the Post 213 Auxiliary was born.

“We’re giving folks flowers and praising them now instead of when they’re buried,” said Eva Ford, president of the auxiliary and a 25-year member.

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About 50 people attended what was dubbed a pre-anniversary celebration.

“We’re saying we appreciate you for the foresight to do something constructive for the community, our youth and the veterans,” Ford told the charter members.

The auxiliary began when about 34 women met at the Jackson Street YMCA on a cold, rainy night in 1948, said past president and founding member Velma Woodson. It was there that they voted on officers and established their mission. Even before the Legionnaires received their charter, the women began providing support to veterans and the community.

The auxiliary has 142 members and 36 Junior Auxiliary members. Ford said the auxiliary teaches the young members so they can take over some day.

Woodson, recounting the history of the auxiliary to the crowd, said the Legionnaires and the women have always been “connected at the hip.” She said it was the men’s idea to have an auxiliary.

In an added salute, Post 213 member Charles Scott crowned Fred D. and Alyce Shields, the oldest couple among the founding members, king and queen of the post.

The Shieldses have been married for 59 years and worked together with the 73 other founding members to create a place for veterans to turn after war times.

“We wanted something we could be proud of – for young people to realize – to represent our country,” 80-year-old Alyce Shields said.

Fred D. Shields, 82, served in World War II from 1941 through 1945. He said he and the other soldiers in the community wanted a place to go when they returned from the war.

“If it’s something you desire, you just have to work toward it,” he said. “I’m glad to see veterans, regardless of what war they fought in, still come in and support this organization.”