Katie Kassing has been an activities director at assisted living home Chippewa Manor in Chippewa Falls for just a year, but the annual Veterans Salute on Thursday, Nov. 9 was a breeze to organize, she said.
“It was wonderful working with the Patriotic Council,” she said. “Everything clicked.”
The ceremony has been a part of Chippewa Falls’ Veterans Day celebrations since 2009, Kassing said. Through the eight years of the event, Chippewa Manor has seen a larger and larger turnout.
A morning breakfast, honoring of local veterans and a rendition of the National Anthem began the morning, with the Chippewa Falls Patriotic Council rounding out the ceremony with a rifle volley and “Taps.”
Joe Oberprillen of Chippewa Falls, a veteran of the Korean War, doesn’t live at Chippewa Manor, but traveled there for the morning’s ceremony.
“It’s been an honor to be here with the veterans and thank the Manor,” Oberprillen said. “It’s humbling. For all the people we veterans run into, if you mention they’re a vet, they’re so kind.”
Joan Ford, also of Chippewa Falls, has lived at Chippewa Manor for two years. She braved the frigid morning in honor of her husband, who served 16 years in the military.
“This is outstanding,” Ford said. “What a great day for the vets.”
Local veterans groups will be visiting area schools Friday, Nov. 10 to celebrate Veterans Day with students. For a full list of locations and times, visit chippewa.com and search “Veterans Day, Chippewa Falls.”
Richard Harold Baughman of Chippewa Falls will turn 100 on Monday, Nov. 13, two days after Veterans Day, but he’s received a birthday gift a week early.
Baughman, along with the 10 other veterans who live at Wissota Place Senior Living in Chippewa Falls, watched Tuesday morning as a flag was raised on the newly-erected flagpole at the residence. Three volleys were fired. A choir from Chippewa Falls Senior High School sang the National Anthem.
The ceremony was especially poignant for Baughman, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart veteran of World War II. The Rusk County native remembered his time in military clearly, but there’s one date that keeps coming up: Christmas Eve of 1942, a year after the U.S. entered the war.
“I ended up at (Louisiana training camp) Camp Claiborne on Christmas Eve,” Baughman said. “They were forming a new division, the 103rd…that was a very lonesome time for me.”
Baughman had married his wife Arline in 1940, had built a homestead on 40 acres in Sheldon, Wis. with his father a year later. Several paintings of the Baughman family farm hang on his apartment’s walls at Wissota Place: a humble white one-story house stands in a quiet farm field, trees lining the horizon.
Baughman was drafted in 1942. After basic training in Louisiana, he headed to Camp Howze in Texas, where he stayed until 1944. “On D-Day (June 6, 1944), a whole bunch of us were taken out and put on a train,” he remembers.
After a brief stint loading ships in Boston Harbor, he boarded ships to Brazil, Scotland, England and finally landed in Normandy, France.
Baughman remembers four days of fighting in early October of 1944, during a large Allied attack on a German defensive line called the West Wall in northern France. “We had a tough fight…we lost a lot of men,” he said.
When Baughman and his division broke through the Germans’ defensive line, he remembers reaching a small town before being wounded in the knee. He was evacuated to a Normandy hospital until December, he said, then rejoined Allied forces to fight in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 and January 1945. The battle is where American soldiers sustained the most casualties of any fight of the war. “I got back to the front again, and (enemy forces) stopped their volleys,” he remembers. “That’s probably the reason I’m still here. We cut the (German forces) off, so they couldn’t get back to Germany.” He remained unharmed during the battle.
The war in Europe ended in May 1945, but America still was fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Theater.
Baughman sustained another injury during training. After recuperating and returning to the field, he finally made his way back to the United States in September 1945, after the war ended.
Baughman lived at his Sheldon farm with his wife and six children for another 70 years, welcoming many grandchildren and great-grandchildren along the way. In 2016, Arline passed away, and Baughman moved to Wissota Place soon after.
Baughman will celebrate his 100th birthday on Monday. He’s kept dozens of letters, yellowed with age, from his superiors announcing the end of the war, as well as his medals.
“It’s hard,” he said, referring to selling his family farm and moving to Chippewa Falls. “But it’s wonderful here.”
There is no questioning the persistence of Patrick Lee Crawford. Once the 46-year-old Holcombe man makes a decision, he sticks by it.
At least, that’s the conclusion that can be drawn from a man facing 34 counts of felony bail jumping in Chippewa County Court. All of Crawford’s bail jumping charges stem from his Aug. 20 charge of seventh offense driving while intoxicated in the town of Birch Creek.
Crawford, who is formerly of Augusta, was charged in September with nine counts of felony bail jumping for failing to submit to a daily preliminary breath test from Aug. 22 to Aug. 30. The breath tests were to be done at the Chippewa County Jail.
On Wednesday, 25 more felony bail jumping charges were filed in court against Crawford, all for failing to submit to a daily preliminary breath test. A criminal complaint said Crawford is not enrolled in the Intoxicated Driver Intervention Program (IDIP) nor Soberlink, a remote alcohol monitoring program.
Six counts of felony bail jumping filed against Crawford on Wednesday are from Sept. 30, Oct. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Another nine counts are from Oct. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18. The 10 counts are from Oct. 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and Oct. 28.
Each count of felony bail jumping carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If he was convicted of all 34 counts and receives the maximum sentence, Crawford would serve a 204-year prison sentence and be subject to a $340,000 fine.
However, judges seldom hand out maximum sentences.
Crawford is in trouble because of his Aug. 20 arrest in the town of Birch Creek for intoxicated driving seventh offense. A criminal complaint said he had a blood alcohol content of 0.318. That’s nearly four times Wisconsin’s standard of intoxicated for a first time drunk driver of 0.08.
A criminal complaint for the drunk driving charge said when an law enforcement officer stopped Crawford the defendant said: “You got me. I am drunk.”
After going through preliminary procedures, Crawford asked the officer: “Do we need to go through the dance? I am drunk. Just arrest me now.”
When reading Heyde Center for the Arts' upcoming play, "Last Lists from My Mad Mother," Debra Johnson had a moment of realization about her mother's life with dementia and Johnson's subsequent reversed role as caregiver.
The play focuses on a mother-daughter relationship in the midst of an Alzheimer's diagnosis.
"It's allowing me to understand better where I’m at and that I’m not alone, that I’m not the only one that’s in this situation, that there are no perfect answers, that there is no play-by-play," Johnson said, "but there's a shared kind of bond with those people going through it."
Instead of feeling angry for her mother not remembering, Johnson, executive director of the center and the Chippewa Valley Cultural Association, said she now finds the joy with the time spent with her mother.
"She may not remember it tomorrow but at the moment we’re doing it, she’s enjoying it... enjoying life, and I can enjoy her," Johnson said.
"Last Lists from my Mad Mother" will run 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 through Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Heyde Center, 3 S. High Street. The play, Johnson said, is part of the center's goal of using art as a way of addressing social issues.
The story follows the relationship of Dot and Ma as they navigate through Ma's diagnosis, life with the disease and inevitable end that comes with it, while Sis offers her own advice on the phone.
Friday and Saturday's performances will feature a cash bar and a catered dinner by Current Catering, with a buffet of roasted pork loin and chicken, wild rice pilaf, green salad, vegetable blend, rolls and a fudge brownie prior to the show.
Audiences can also participate in a discussion following the show with Sharlene Bellefeuille, outreach specialist with the Alzheimer's Association, Greater Wisconsin Chapter.
Play director Frank Bartella has been working on the production since the beginning of the year and formally with a cast since September. Bartella said he believes the story weaves together strong character progressions due to the production's small cast, while the show as a whole offers audiences grounds for discussing dementia.
"To me, all great stories have a moral or a meaning to them, so being able to then have a discussion afterwards really ties the whole thing together," Bartella said.
Bellefeuille, who has been with the Alzheimer's Association for 9 years, represents much of western Wisconsin, assisting patients and their families as they navigate through a memory-loss diagnosis.
Through the play, Bellefeuille said she is hopeful audiences—and any families afflicted by memory loss—will foster a healthy perspective on what life with a memory-loss diagnosis is like.
"We have this picture of somebody with dementia. They look confused and they’re acting out," Bellefeuille said. "It allows us to see the disease process, and then how to communicate more effectively."
Bellefeuille added dementia can impact one in two or three people by the time they reach the age of 85, making it much more common.
On hand with her at the performances will be what Bellefeuille called her "arsenal of good information," including brochures and more information, but she also encouraged community members, families and organizations to reach out to the association's professional hotline at 1-800-272-3900.
The hotline, she said, can be used for more than just crisis situations and is there to answer questions and start a conversation about dementia and aging.
Reflecting now, Johnson said the situation she lives in is not one she would have ever expected, but it's one everyone should take time to understand.
"It's a human situation, its not just a dementia situation," Johnson said. "I never thought about having a parent with dementia. You just kind of go on thinking your parents are always going to be your parents. You start losing your parents well before they physically leave, but it's not the end-all.
"There’s still a wonderful person there."