A Final Salute – From the Publisher
Our Naples community, specifically our Veterans and I have lost two of the best friends we’ve ever had. A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson summed it up, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” No one embodied these words better than Jim Elson and Homer Helter.
Jim was involved in many Veterans organizations including Collier County Veterans Council, Reserve Officers Association and Military Officers Association. He was a tireless worker for Veterans causes, serving his community just as he did his country. He is remembered for putting flags on Veterans graves and took pride in assuming responsibility for the services at the annual Memorial Day observation in North Naples. His dedication and involvement made certain that our local Memorial and Veterans Day ceremonies would continue into perpetuity. When I was chair of Southwest Florida Red Cross, Jim and his fellow officers came to our aid many times in providing leadership in our shelters during hurricanes. He was a true Patriot and gentleman who cared without restrictions.
It’s often been said that if you looked up the word patriotism in the dictionary you would find a picture of Homer Helter. Everyone who knew him agreed that he personified patriotism. Homer’s military collectibles and antique store was fondly called “God’s waiting room” as on any given day it was packed with Veterans and their friends. They gathered together, Veterans of all ages, from all wars to exchange stories, to offer support and solve the world’s problems. A favorite talking point was politics at all levels from local to the world all while enjoying the tasty food that Homer and his wife Diane graciously prepared daily. If you can imagine, Homer including his volunteers and the generous Faith Lutheran Church have sent over seventy tons of supplies to our active service members overseas since 2003. That tradition will continue in Homer’s honor.
These Patriots, who were men of honor, loved their country and we as a community loved them back. They will be missed and never forgotten. Although they can never be replaced, it is now someone else’s turn to step forward and pick up where they left off, and maybe it’s you.
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