09/27/10 The United States of America flag that now waves proudly in front of Sunrise Chapel in Plymouth is a most fitting memorial for the late Jim Stapan. Stapan was a Marine Corps veteran and had most recently served as Marshall County Veteran Affairs Officer prior to his passing.
A dedication ceremony for a memorial flagpole in his name was held Sunday.
United States Congressman Joe Donnelly considered Stapan a patriot and a friend. Donnelly said, “Jim (Stapan) had a love of God, a love of country and a love of family.”
Accepting the flagpole and marker for her husband was Juanita Stapan. She said, “This is a tribute to all of our veterans-men and women.”
The decision to erect the flagpole at Sunrise was also very meaningful since Jim was a supportive member of Sunrise Chapel for many years. Rev. Bob Beyler of the church led those in attendance at the dedication in prayer and spoke highly of Stapan’s love of the church.
Julian Keiser, commander of the American Legion, said, “Jim came into the Veteran’s Office and represented all of Marshall County.”
Among Stapan’s many contributions was his dedication to obtaining and presenting medals to veterans. Keiser said, “When veterans return from service, they are anxious to get home to families and jobs. Often they don’t wait to collect the medals they deserved and earned.” He added, “Jim started a program to make sure these vets got their medals.” Keiser said at first, they went to the homes of veterans to present medals, but once the word got out, they changed the presentations to the Veteran’s Affairs office. Keiser said there are between 15-25 veterans receiving medals every quarter now.
Keiser said, “That’s what the VFW (Veteran’s of Foreign Wars) , American Legion, and DAV (Disabled American Veterans) is all about.”
Keiser thanked Stapan’s widow for her dedication. He said, “They say that behind every good man is a good woman. Thank you for being his encourager.”
Among those attending the ceremony was local resident Kenneth Lukenbill. Lukenbill said, “Jim was certainly a good man and did lots of nice things for many people and veterans. He leaves a wonderful family.”
Donnelly also spoke of Stapan’s service on the Veteran’s Advisory Committee. Donnelly said, “He lived to help his fellow man.” “I was able to do such a better job because of his interest.” Donnelly said.
Donnelly referred to the flagpole and flag as a both a memorial to Stapan and a tribute to all servicemen and women.
Donnelly said Stapan’s influence continues to be a part of the Veteran’s Affairs office today. He said, “That is because of the people he trained and the legacy he left behind.” Fred Kowalski, who worked with Stapan and has now taken over the responsibilities of the office, said, “Jim was a very good friend and he will be dearly missed.”