Poignant gift of $9 is start to rebuilding VFW’s coffers

When $90,000 is missing, every gift helps. Even $9.

That modest amount arrived in a letter to Herald writer and editor Scott North, with instructions to send the cash along to the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Sultan. North’s recent article about more than $90,000 being stolen from the post’s bank account hit a nerve with Diane Rogers.

“I wanted to tell you how sad I was to read about the Sultan VFW theft. It is almost unimaginable,” the Snohomish woman wrote. “I am well aware how these service organizations struggle — the fund-raisers, the lack of younger volunteers.”

Folded into her letter was a $5 bill and four well-worn dollars. To Rogers, it’s a meaningful sum, which her neatly printed note explained.

Even before reading why she chose that amount — not, say, a $10 bill — there seemed to be a message in the tattered money. Nine dollars is a touching sum. It conveys how important a veterans group is to members. Many are seniors with limited incomes.

A VFW post is also a reminder to a community of the great sacrifices made by generations of veterans. For Rogers, it’s personal.

She and her former husband, Francis Rogers, remained friends after their divorce in the 1960s. They had five children together. In 2006, she said, her husband was killed in a robbery in Texas. He lived in Orange, Texas, where he had moved to help care for a brother who was dying of cancer in Louisiana.

Francis Rogers was in the Army in the late 1950s and was stationed in Germany, his former wife said. Before retiring and moving to Texas, he worked in a kitchen at the Monroe Correctional Complex. Back then, he was involved with Everett’s VFW Post 2100.

After his death, Rogers and her children gathered in Texas for his funeral and to clean out his house.

“He was very organized and methodical,” she said. On the headboard of his bed, she found $9 in cash wrapped in a piece of paper marked “VFW.” Rogers said this week that she brought that money home and sent it to the Everett VFW.

In her letter, she suggested challenging others to donate $9 to the VFW in Sultan “to help these men, and maybe restore their faith in humanity.”

Edward Ray Sherman of Lake Stevens, a former quartermaster of Sultan’s VFW Stoehr-Glidden Post 2554, has been charged with first-degree theft in the group’s losses that began in 2007. The bank account, which was emptied, once had a large balance due to the sale of property owned by the veterans group.

During graduation season, the post would award scholarships. Post Commander Chuck Donahue is doubtful that will happen this year.

The Gold Bar man learned Thursday that Rogers’ $9 gift is on the way.

“It means a lot. I think that’s really sweet,” Donahue said. The group has had several calls from people interested in helping since the theft came to light, he said.

Diane Rogers remembers her former husband’s generosity.

He shared time as a volunteer tutor, helping at a Catholic school near his Texas home. When he worked at the Monroe prison, she said, he brought cards during the holidays so inmates could send them to loved ones. He and a friend had traveled to an Oklahoma Indian reservation to donate a load of new shoes they acquired from a shoe retailer’s surplus.

“He had a soft heart for people,” Rogers said.

Who isn’t discouraged by people who take and take? It’s good to remember those who give.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

How to help

To donate to Sultan’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post, send a check to: VFW Post 2554, P.O. Box 774, Sultan, WA 98294.

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