Rose S. Prinzi
This Memorial Day, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation remembers and honors William A. Walrod, known as “Bill” to his friends. Bill Walrod grew up in Kennedy. He attended the country school in Clark’s Corners until he reached seventh grade, when his father decided that it was time for him to go to Falconer High School. He graduated from Falconer High School, and then Jamestown Business College, before taking a job at First National Bank of Jamestown. He worked there for five years, and during this time, graduated from the American Institute of Banking. About this time, World War II came along; and Bill enlisted in the Army, where he served for four years and four months, seeing duty in Western Europe. In 1988, Bill was fortunate enough to return to the beaches of Normandy. There, he proudly wore his American Legion cap from Post 149 in Jamestown, which provoked many questions and many interesting conversations.
After the war, Bill returned to Chautauqua County and married Ruth Benson of Frewsburg. Bill went into business with his father and brother, running A.A. Walrod Bottled Gas. Bill and Ruth had one son of whom they were very proud. Robert lives in the area, is married and has two children.
Upon retiring from the gas business in 1980, Bill felt that he was too young to totally retire; and, besides, he still wanted to be able to serve his fellow man. He took a position as an employee of the Veteran’s Service Agency and worked there for fifteen years. It was during this period of his life that he saw the need for a fund to maintain the Veteran’s Van. He became concerned about the van which transports veterans to Veteran’s Hospitals in Erie and Buffalo.
He could see that many unfortunate veterans who did not have an automobile to drive, or a friend to drive them, relied on this service. Being concerned that sometime what little state and federal aid was available to help maintain the service might not be there, he created a fund at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation with a generous donation. The fund was created in the spirit of doing something for those less fortunate.
The purpose of the fund is to help maintain the van and cover operational cost. Each week, this van travels to and from Buffalo and Erie Veteran’s Administration Hospitals. Last year alone, the van transported 2,162 veterans to Buffalo and Erie .The van goes to Buffalo on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Thursday, it transports veterans to Erie.
If you would like to make a donation in memory or in honor of someone special this Memorial Day, consider giving to the William A. Walrod Veterans Van Fund, donations are gratefully accepted at the Community Foundation, 418 Spring Street, Jamestown, NY 14701.