Richard "Dick" Decker was best known for owning and operating Decker's Bakery in Washington right before he passed away last year, but there was a lot more about him.
Decker, 67, held about every office at the Washington American Legion Post 121. A former Legionnaire of the Year and post commander, the post wanted to do something special in memory of him.
Last Friday, that idea was reality as the post donated $3,000 to the American Legion¹s Operation Comfort Warriors. The post had already donated
$2,000 to Wounded Warrior Project in Decker's name.
"Dick was what I call the ambassador of the American Legion," current Post Commander Kelly Hamm said. "He was the welcoming committee." During the usual weekly drawing on Friday, the check for Operation Comfort Warriors was officially made. The idea for the donation came from Decker himself.
"Jack McDonald and Dick were sitting in (the post) one day and wanted to start a fund for Wounded Warrior," Hamm said. "They each gave me $5." After Decker died in September, the members started talking about something that could be done in Decker's name, and came up with the donations to Operation Comfort Warriors and Wounded Warrior Project.
Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2003 by a group of veterans in Roanoke, Va. It has gained prominence during the war on terror for the support it gives to our wounded veterans. Operation Comfort Warriors, was created by the American Legion in 2007 and provides comfort items, like computers, movies and rehabilitation equipment the government does not provide to wounded veterans.
Both charities were ones that Decker and the Legion members are very happy to help. Decker himself was a Vietnam veteran.
"They are extremely supportive of the donations, extremely supportive," Hamm said of the member reaction to the donations. "They are very glad that we are doing something in honor of a member that has done so much for this post." District Commander Kevin Hinton said he was proud to present the check to the state officers this week.
"I didn't know Dick," Hinton said. "Everybody that talked to me about him (Friday) would make me know that he was a friend to the post. I even heard a story where they missed his donuts," For Hamm, the donation in memory of Decker was personal due to what he meant to the him and the post.
"I got extremely involved because of Dick," Hamm said. "He was what I call 'the welcoming committee' to new people, strangers coming into the post. He would make them feel welcome." Don Ennis, a member and friend of Decker, said Decker was a man who left big shoes to fill.
"He took any office no one wanted," Ennis said. "That was when he was working six days a week at the donut shop, getting up at 3 in the morning." Decker's children, Jessica Puntney, Ashley Longest and Josh Decker were all in attendance, as was his brother Gerald.
"It's really been great for the legion to do this in Dick's name for the Wounded Warrior in support of our troops," Gerald said. "They couldn't to do anything better." By the crowd at the Legion post during Friday's check presentation, it was more than evident that Decker was liked by many who call the post home.
The members raised their glasses in salute to a man that meant a lot to so many.