NORTH STAR — Charles Dunwoody, one of the North Star American Legion members honored Sunday night in a special presentation gathering, will mark his 100th birthday on April 15.
The retired farmer was born two miles away from his present residence…east of Happy Corner at the intersection of North Star-Fort Loramie Road and U.S. 127. His parents were William and Goldie (Burns) Dunwoody.
He was the younger of two children. His only sibling, sister Brida, died just a week shy of her 102nd birthday three or four years ago.
Dunwoody married the former Ermil Shope, whom he courted for four years.
“I was her Sunday school teacher when she was young,” said Dunwoody. “I was 26 when we got married and she was 20.”
His wife is still living. She is 93.
Dunwoody said he raised horses, cows, chickens, ducks and geese.
“That’s what you farmed with back then,” he said.
Dunwoody served in the U.S. Army for three years, starting in 1942.
“I served with the 83rd Division in Europe,” he said. “I went in on D-Day with the Ohio National Guard Division and was there when the war ended.”
He has been presented a Purple Heart and Good Conduct medal.
“I was a chaplain’s assistant,” he said. “The very good chaplain and I bonded together well. We held services wherever we could have them….even in hedge rows. I played piano and organ and had a suitcase for the organ when we were out and camping.”
He only had a couple of piano lessons, but basically played by ear, according to daughter Jane Good.
An avid reader, he said he is for the fourth time reading the book D-Day.
“The most casualties came the first day,” he said. “We had 70,000 men in on the first day.”
He said at the end of the war, his unit went through Normandy, France.
“We ended up at the Elbe River, the dividing line between Russia and forces,” he said. “We three chaplains bought POWs back in three jeeps to the American lines. There were 10 to 12 men to a jeep. Each jeep was just loaded.”
He said it took them one week to get through France.
“As far as you could see there were tents ready to go home,” he said.
Upon his return home from his duty overseas, he reunited with his wife and his eldest daughter, Sally, now Peterson, who was born while he was overseas. The couple had another daughter, Jane, two years later, and yet another daughter, Sue, 17 years later. There are now seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Dunwoody, who had attended the Congregational Christian Church in North Star which has now closed, said he was a minister through the church.
He has had the privilege of marrying a few of his grandchildren and pronouncing his granddaughter, Jenny and husband Mike Taylor in marriage.
Forty years of his life was spent working for Gideons International.
“During that time, for 15 years, I went to jails every week,” he said. “It was my calling. We visited 10 to 12 county jails in the surrounding counties. We went to Celina, Van Wert, Wapakoneta as well as Richmond and Winchester in Indiana.”
He said he had also spent five years as a carpenter.
“He has a creative side about him,” Jane said. “He is always thinking, ‘How can I make this better?’”
Dunwoody is a member of the Disabled American Veterans and the American Legion.
“I was injured in Normandy,” he said. “I got some shrapnel after being injured in an explosion at the aid station.”
He has some health issues today.
The day before this past Thanksgiving, he suffered a major heart attack, and was flown via CareFlight to Good Samaritan Hospital from Greenville. Now, his heart is working 30 to 40 percent.
He is supposed to be taking it easy, but has been known to split some wood.
“Every year we cut wood and split it by hand,” he said.
One of his favorite hobbies was weaving rugs in his earlier days.
“I still make them on the looms,” he said. “I have three looms. I’ve made way over 1,000. “
“People cut up their cloths and bring them to him,” Jane said.
She also said her father was one of those instrumental in setting up Youth For Christ in this area, in addition to his jail ministry.
To what does he attribute his longevity?
“I had a good life,” Dunwoody said. “That’s why I’ve lived so long. We never went to a dance, drank alcohol or smoked. I worked hard.”
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