WHEELING - A long-time resident of Elmhurst House of Friendship made a patriotic contribution Tuesday to the historic retirement residence in memory of a treasured friend.
John Ginter, 96, saw to it that Old Glory will fly high and proud at Elmhurst, just in time for the Fourth of July, by donating a 35-foot flag pole and large American flag in memory of former resident John R. Williams, who died earlier this year.
Ginter, a New York native, made it possible for the flag pole to be erected at the main entrance of the facility to honor his brief but steadfast friendship with Williams, who was 99 at the time of his death. A series of coincidences sealed the friendship between the two men, who were inseparable at Elmhurst and often referred to as "the two Johns," according to Jamie Crow, executive director of Elmhurst.
Photos by Sarah Harmon
Boy Scouts from Troop 6 pose with the flag donated to Elmhurst from resident John Ginter, center in remembrance of his late friend and former resident John R. Williams. Pictured from left are Robert Friton, Jamie Crow, Ginter, Austin Porter and Henry Loh.
Williams was well known locally as a retired Wheeling Newspapers executive vice president. Shortly after Williams moved to Elmhurst, Ginter discovered Williams was born in Ginter County, Va., a place he visited when he was a student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and hitchhiked to hear famed songstress Lily Ponds perform in Richmond.
Years later, Ginter and his family were traveling and stayed at Ginter Park, Va. From their very early conversations, the duo developed a bond.
"It seems as though I had known John all my life. We just hit it off," Ginter recalled.
Ginter said thoughts of doing something permanent to commemorate his friendship with Williams gnawed at him. He discussed the possibility of erecting a flag pole with Paula Coats, resident assistant at Elmhurst, who thought the idea was "terrific." The plan was approved by Crow, and all the details were coordinated by Scott Levy, maintenance supervisor.
"The goal was to have the flag by July, and I didn't think we could pull if off, because the flag came from Michigan," Crow said.
The pole arrived early last week and a concrete base was constructed. A plaque honoring Williams has been ordered and will be installed when it arrives. An official dedication ceremony with the family will take place in the next few weeks.
"The idea of a flag pole is truly representative of the value the two Johns placed on their love of America, and also because Mr. Ginter served in World War II and was a career officer for 28 years. It also is a wonderful addition to the grounds at Elmhurst and something all of our residents now, and in the future, will enjoy," Crow said.