The People in My Life for Whom I am Most Thankful

by Jim Houck, Jr.

I have many people in my daily life at this time for which I am very thankful. I would like to start out by thanking my wonderful family. I thank my mother, Mary Jean Wantz Houck, for giving me life and guiding me through my informative years. I thank my sister Connie and my brothers, Bob, Tom, and Marc for helping to keep my youth exciting and adventurous. I am very thankful for them today, because if I need them, I know that all I have to do is contact them and they will be there. I am thankful for my wonderful wife, Joan Wormley Houck, for putting up with my weirdness for… let’s see, November 7, 2014, will be fifty years of marriage and two years of courtship—wow, that’s fifty-two years! I am thankful for my beautiful and talented daughter, Missy Houck Saylor, and my workaholic son, Jim Houck III, for making me so proud through the years. I am thankful for my six grandchildren and my thirteen great-grandchildren, and regret not seeing them as much as I would like. I love my family and thank God for them every day, and pray for Him to watch over them. I am thankful for all of my relatives in the community, and you know who you are—way too many to name in my column.

I want to thank all of the great people at Francis X. Elder American Legion in Emmitsburg and, especially, Sons of the American Legion Squadron 121. I have been their commander for a few years now, and I can truthfully say I am proud of them all and, especially, my officers. My 1st vice commander is Mark Zurgable. Mark is well known in the community and operates Zurgable Bros. Hardware Store. Mark is always willing to help with our many fundraising events to help the people in need throughout our community. Mike Hartdagen is my 2nd vice commander and takes care of our membership and does a great job. Mike is very detail-oriented, which comes from the many years he worked in the air conditioning and heating industry. He has health issues, as I am sure anyone who knows Mike is aware, and he still continues being a great aid mentally, if not physically, to our projects. My treasurer is Gary Stouter, and he does a great job at keeping our finances straight. Gary owns Mountain Liquors, and he not only helps with events, but he donates a lot of things we use at the fundraisers. Fred Hoff is my adjutant (secretary) and does a good job taking care to keep our minutes from one meeting to the next. I can call Fred to assist with something one of our members has been assigned to but is not able to attend, and Fred—if he is in the area—will always say yes. Dick Fleagle is my chaplain and takes care of our opening and closing prayers. He keeps check on our members; if someone is sick, in the hospital, or has passed on, he sends them and/or their family cards, fruit baskets, or flowers. Tim Hane is my sergeant at arms and maintains order at our meetings, makes sure the flags are in place, and my gavel is present. Tim also guards the door; when we have ceremonies, such as the swearing in of new members, he instructs and escorts them to their proper post.

I am very thankful for having these people and our members in my life. A friendly reminder to all SAL members: dues are now payable for 2015 and are $20.00, but if you wait until after December 31, 2014, dues will be $25.00.

I am thankful for VFW Memorial Post 6658 and their people, but especially thankful for VFW Men’s Auxiliary Unit 6658, where I am the senior vice president. The president of this great unit is Leo Hobbs, and he does a great job of leading us. Leo controls his meeting and reminds everyone we exist to help the children in our community. When Leo has a plan for a fundraising event, he gets right to the point, and after discussion by members, his plan usually is voted a go. We are having our annual Shrimp and Chicken Feed on November 8, 2014, from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Please check the VFW website and Facebook for all the information about Feeds and other events at the Post. Leo’s junior vice president is Josh Weatherly. Josh is in charge of membership and has done a great job for a few years now. He also is at most of our functions and helps in many ways. Leo’s secretary is Steve Seidel, and he has been taking minutes for MAVFW Unit 6658’s meetings for a few years. Steve recently got married and has been “missing in action” for a few months. Steve Wojciechowski is Leo’s treasurer and keeps the checkbook in order. He comes out to help at most events and does a really good job. Mark Zurgable is the chaplain for the unit and never misses a meeting, unless he forgets—you know how old age affects some people. He helps with most events and is usually there from start to finish. Leo’s trustees are Dick Fleagle, Bruce Weatherly, and Lu Norris; they all do a great job of double-checking the treasurer’s report, as well as volunteering at our events. Bob Kuhn is Leo’s sergeant at arms and announces and escorts in anyone visiting our meeting. MAVFW Unit 6658’s officers are all people of whom I am very proud, and I thank God to get to work with such a great group of people.

AMVETS Post 7 Thurmont has some fantastic people in their organization, and I am thankful I know a lot of them. I am also proud and thankful to be a member of Sons of AMVETS Squadron 7 and an officer under the command of Commander Mark Zienda. This is Mark’s second year as commander of Squadron 7, and he has done a great job thus far. Mark, along with taking care of his ailing father, manages to do his job and more. Even if he has to get back to his dad, he puts in an appearance to let the members know he is behind them. Mark’s 1st vice commander is Dick Fleagle, and he takes care of membership—there is no one better at it than Dick. Dick is a very serious person when it comes to his job of membership; he could probably get around a few things regarding membership, but his ethics won’t allow him to do that. With Dick, it is either right or wrong, and you can bet your last dollar that it’s always going to be done the right way. I am Mark’s 2nd vice commander, and my job is to report to National SOA with all of our volunteer hours accumulated monthly to get credit, and to give our delegates more power to negotiate on Capitol Hill for our Veterans. Mark’s 3rd vice commander is Brian Payne; his job is to come up with events for fundraisers to aid Veterans and our community. Brian has been doing a great job, and we are proud of him. He also volunteers at various functions at the Post. Joe Forrest is Mark’s adjutant, and he keeps account of all things happening at our meetings. Joe volunteers at our functions and supplies lots of desserts at our events. Mark’s treasurer is Bob Gouge, and he controls the money flow for Squadron 7. Bob gives an accurate and up-to-date report at each meeting. He also volunteers at many of our events when possible. Craig Williams is Mark’s chaplain, and he reads the prayer before and after meetings; he finds out who is sick and who has passed and handles them appropriately. Tim McKinnon is Mark’s judge advocate and interprets our standing rules and bylaws and enforces them. Tim also volunteers at many functions. Jim Payne is Mark’s VAVS officer and attends meetings at Martinsburg Veterans Center; he keeps us informed of what is happening with our Veterans. Jim is an active volunteer, also. Mark’s provost marshall is Pauly Krygier, and he guards the door and escorts those to be sworn in to the proper position. I am truly thankful for being able to associate with such a great group of officers and members.

The Department of Maryland Sons of AMVETS is another organization of which I am proud to be a part. The Commander is Ed Stely and he is a fantastic man. I really gained a lot of respect for him when he and I were in Memphis, Tennessee, at our National Convention. Ed’s 1st vice commander is Doug Penwell, and he is the right man for the job. Doug takes care of membership and stays right on top of things, because he has to account for membership at the Squadron level as well. Wade Clem is Ed’s 2nd vice commander, and he takes care of the reports for volunteers at Squadron level and reports to National. I am Ed’s 3rd vice commander, and it is my job to come up with fundraiser projects for the Department of Maryland and distribute them to the Squadrons. Bobby Stouffer is Ed’s adjutant and keeps the minutes from one meeting to the next, and he does a very good job. Joe Forrest is Ed’s judge advocate, and he interprets standing rules and bylaws. Ed’s chaplain is Dick Fleagle, and he does a fine job, as he does in everything else. I am Ed’s public relations officer, and it is my job to keep us in the spotlight. Ed’s VAVS officer is Jim Payne; and, for being new at it, Jim is doing an excellent job. Doug Penwell is acting treasurer for Scotty and doing an excellent job. Billy Kolb is Ed’s provost marshall and has always been good at it. I am proud and honored and very thankful to know and be a part of this great organization.

The Catoctin Banner is the best monthly community newspaper I have ever read. I am proud to call Deb Spalding a friend. And I think she understood a long time ago that if you are going to publish a community paper, you write about things happening in your community, not things happening halfway around the world. The community you live in and the surrounding communities are the world for the people living there. I am very proud to have had the opportunity to write for the Banner and will continue writing for her as long as I am mentally able. I listen to a lot of feedback from folks and I see lots of people, and I feel confident this paper will be around for many years, as long as it prints the quality material it has been writing. I am thankful to be associated with The Catoctin Banner and all the great people that help to put it together.

Thank God for the United States of America; my family; the American Veterans; and our community newspaper, The Catoctin Banner.

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