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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Bob Wingard returned to Pittsburg to celebrate his 100th birthday

  • Bob Wingard faithfully attended every meeting of the Pittsburg Senior  Citizens Club until last October, when he became ill and went to live with family in Copan, Okla.

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  • Bob Wingard faithfully attended every meeting of the Pittsburg Senior  Citizens Club until last October, when he became ill and went to live with family in Copan, Okla.
    He made a special trip back on Friday when the club met to celebrate July birthdays. Wingard will be 100 on July 31.
    “I really enjoyed coming here every Friday,” he said. “There’s a bunch of good people here.”
    The bunch Friday included several of Wingard’s former Pittsburg neighbors and Judy Johnson, wife of his stepson, Gary Johnson.
    “He’s just Dad to me,” she said. “He was driving his car and living by himself a year ago, then he got sick in October, went to the hospital for a month and got pneumonia. That’s when he came to live with us, and he’ll be with us as long as we can take care of him.”
    It’s only fair, since Wingard has a long history of taking care of others.
    “Bob lived across the street from us and you couldn’t ask for a better neighbor,” said Kelly Collver, Pittsburg. “When we had one of those big ice storms, a large branch fell in my yard and I was wondering how I was going to take care of it. Before I knew it, Bob was out there with a chain saw, cutting it into one-foot sections so it could be taken away. He used to call me every Sunday to check and see if we were doing all right.”
    Collver added that Wingard had been fond of growing cactuses.
    “I’m a teacher, and every year Bob would remove the buds, I called them ‘pups,’ from his cactus and repot them for my class,” she said. “He was always so good at making crafts. A neighbor had a magnolia tree, and Bob would take the dried pods from the tree every year and make Christmas trees for my class. He made my son a scooter from a pair of old-time roller skates. Bob has always been so caring of others.”
    “That’s just Dad,” Johnson said.
    Wingard was born July 31, 1911, in Pennsylvania and had three brothers, including identical twin Richard.
    “The only way our mother could tells us apart when we were kids was by looking at my ears,” he said, showing that his left ear lobe is shorter than the right one.
    Sadly, all his brothers are now deceased.
    The family moved to Ohio, and he attended high school in Canton, Ohio.
    “I’m an old-time tree trimmer,” he said. “I worked for a tree trimming company, and trimmed trees from Pennsylvania to Kansas. That’s how I ended up in Pittsburg.”
    Wingard said the company he worked for did contract work trimming trees for KG&E.
    Page 2 of 2 - “When another company got the contract, I retired,” he said. “I was past 65 anyway.”
    Wingard did take a break in his tree-trimming career to serve his country during World War II.
    “I was in the 232nd Field Artillery Battery, 42nd Rainbow Division, and served in France, Germany and Austria,” he said.
    Wingard took part in several historic battles, including the battle of  Hatten-Rittershoffen, fought in January 1945 between two small Alsatian towns to stem the last major German counter-offensive of World War II. Both sides considered this some of the heaviest fighting on the western front of the war, and both the Allies and the Germans suffered heavy casualties.
    The Rainbow Division also, late in the afternoon of April 29, 1945, liberated Dachau, the infamous Nazi concentration camp.
    “Bob saw the Holocaust,” Johnson said. “He saw the piles of dead bodies.”
    After the war he returned home and trimmed more trees. He married twice, first to Alberta, mother of Gary Johnson. After her death, he married his second wife, Mildred, who also had a son. She is also deceased, along with her son, Harry Moore.
    “My husband and I have three sons, and Harry had a boy and a girl,” Johnson said. “Bob also has seven great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.”
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