Family members and fellow Autumn Trace residents and staff were present, pastors sang hymns, cupcakes and drinks were served and a PowerPoint presentation of pictures was shown.
Harold “Bud” Kysar couldn’t believe all that was done March 16, 2021, to celebrate his 100th birthday.
Turning 101 this week called for another big celebration. Not only were some of his family and the Autumn Trace residents and staff there, three guests attended for a very special presentation.
The World War II veteran was presented a Quilt of Valor, a small American flag, an American flag lapel pin, a lanyard and two certificates from the Daughters of the American Revolution to recognize his service to the country.
“We consider it our privilege to do so, but we may have never known the extent of your sacrifice to protecting and defend the United States of America,” Sally Acton, chaplain and scrapbook chairwoman of the Fort Vallonia chapter of DAR, said while reading one of the certificates. “We award you this Quilt of Valor as an expression of gratitude from a grateful nation.”
After Kysar received a round of applause, he expressed his thanks.
“It’s a beautiful piece. Isn’t that beautiful?” he said of the large red, white and blue quilt.
The Quilts of Valor Foundation recognizes men and women for their service to the country by presenting them with a handmade quilt. The mission statement is “to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor,” according to qovf.org.
Acton was joined in the presentation by Kathy Douglass, a fellow Fort Vallonia chapter member, and Rhonda Beck, state chairwoman for service to veterans for Indiana DAR.
“On behalf of the Fort Vallonia chapter and Indiana DAR, Mr. Kysar, we sincerely thank you for your service and commitment to our country,” Beck said before another round of applause.
The event also included cake served to attendees and Kysar’s son-in-law, Mike Jones, putting a shadow box on display that includes his service medals, patches, chevrons and dog tags.
“You are all so kind,” Kysar said. “I never dreamed it was going to be all of this.”
The quilt came about after one of his daughters, Jane Jones, saw a Facebook post by one of her former sorority sisters, Glenda Moody Moore, who lives in Texas.
“There was a picture on her Facebook page of her coming up from Texas to Illinois to present one of the Quilts of Valor that she had made and was a relative of hers, and I’m like, ‘What’s Quilts of Valor?’ and she told me all about the project that the DAR has making these quilts for veterans,” Jones said. “I hadn’t heard about it before until I saw that and I go, ‘That’s neat. I’m surprised my dad doesn’t have one.’”
Moore then asked Jones for her father’s address. About six weeks later, she received an email from Moore saying she almost had the quilt finished and wanted to know when to present it to him.
Jones said his 101st birthday was coming up in March, and since Moore couldn’t be there, she contacted Autumn Trace Executive Director Beth Melloncamp and DAR representatives to set up a special event.
“I am beside myself with what my sorority sister from so many years ago put together and how quickly she got it done,” Jones said. “It means a whole lot to us, and I know (Kysar) is not one for the big to-do, so I was kind of like, ‘Oh, I hope he doesn’t get mad for having another party,’ but it’s so wonderful to be able to celebrate.”
Kysar’s quilt was pieced and bounded by Moore and quilted by her daughter, Master Sgt. Sara Moore.
“I’m just tickled to death,” Kysar said, admiring all of the work put into the quilt. “I never dreamed just being a common old sailor on an oiler.”
Born March 16, 1921, to Herbert A. and Katherine Stradley Kysar on South Vine Street in Seymour, Kysar attended Third Ward School and Washington School before moving on to Shields Junior High School and then Shields High School, graduating in 1939.
Most of the next year was spent working for Jesse Kovener building two homes, remodeling two homes, building a large barn, putting a hip roof on a barn and even moving two houses.
Kysar then went to Maysville, Kentucky, and worked at a bicycle factory.
In January 1942, he returned to Seymour and worked at a shirt factory.
Four months later, he began working at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh unloading supplies from trucks and railroad cars. The supplies were used to build the barracks at Atterbury, which was an Army training base.
Next, he returned to Seymour and landed a job on a survey gang consisting of engineers building Freeman Field.
In November 1942, Kysar went to Indianapolis and joined the U.S. Navy. He was sworn in and then went to Great Lakes Naval Training Center Camp Perry Co. 1695, where he remained in boot camp until Jan. 9, 1943.
Then he was sent to Purdue University for a three-month electrical course. After that, he had nine days’ travel time to get out to Bremerton Washington Naval Yard. There, he went aboard the USS Brazos at Todd Shipyards in Seattle, Washington, on June 6, 1943. He and three other men were electrician’s mates third class.
Kysar was among 6,000 members of the Navy who were shipped to the Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean for two years.
Once he returned stateside, Kysar went to the Philadelphia Navy Yard and Camp Perry in Virginia for electrical school. After three months there, he was sent to California and later was discharged Jan. 6, 1946.
Returning to his hometown, he landed a job at Freeman Field working for Virgil Treadway, who was in charge of the electrical portion of foreign aircraft.
“There were lots of German aircraft there, and we pretty much disassembled them and restored them to their natural status,” he said, noting they also rebuilt a jet for the Freeman Field commander.
Around Christmas that year, his job at Freeman Field ended, so he found a job working at a veneer company in the city.
Kysar was job hunting again when the veneer plant closed in January 1950. He tended bar and worked odd jobs at the Elks Lodge before moving on to Sears, where he worked until 1959.
In April 1959, he applied for a job at Cummins Engine Co. in Columbus and was hired to work in the receiving department. During a layoff, he was hired to work for the city of Seymour. Then in April 1961, he went back to Cummins and worked in the skid building.
During another layoff, he applied for a job with Indiana Telephone Corp. and eventually was hired in the equipment department Jan. 2, 1962.
Indiana Telephone Corp. was purchased by Contel, and he retired from that company on Dec. 16, 1983.
Over the years, Kysar said he has been fortunate to have good health except for his vision. He lost sight in one eye in 2017 and has a detached retina in the other one.
“I’m seeing about 30% out of this eye. It’s better than nothing,” he said, smiling. “I’ve always had a good doctor, and he said, ‘You’re in perfect shape.’ The only thing is my eyes.”
Besides good health, his other daughter, Beth Brooks, attributes his long life to his caring nature. She said he often helped older relatives and neighbors with chores and took them to appointments.
“I think his longevity is due to the fact that he has helped so many people throughout his life. He has just always been helpful,” Brooks said.
“As a child, my dad must have known everybody in Seymour because every person that walked by knew him or he talked to them like he knew them. He was everybody’s friend,” Jones added.
Brooks said since her dad has always been in good health, she should have known he would make it to 101.
“His long-term memory just goes back and back and back. He has a little trouble with his short-term memory now … but he does really wonderful for his age,” she said. “We’re just so thankful that he can still be with us and share memories.”
After he’s done displaying his quilt and shadow box in his room at Autumn Trace, Kysar said he plans to give them to family members.
He’s already looking forward to seeing how his 102nd birthday will be spent.
”The way I feel now, we’ll make it,” he said, smiling.