By Sterling McGinn
The American Legion Post 74 of Newberry has been busy preparing for the upcoming year and getting ready for new officers to fill the seats, but made time to honor one of their own.
At their regular monthly meeting, held Thursday, April 14, the American Legion elected their 2022-2023 Post officers, and presented a special award to James W. Lone for 60 consecutive years as a Legionnaire.
Outgoing Commander Joe Bennett presented past commander Lone with a framed certificate and a 60-year pin at the beginning of the meeting.
“Jim has done a lot for this post,” said Bennett. “He deserves to be recognized for his service.”
Lone was born and raised in Newberry, the son of Victor and Bertha Lone. After graduating from Newberry High School in 1948, he attended Albion College for one semester before entering school for one year at the Cleary Business College in Ypsilanti.
He then enlisted in the United States Air Force in December of 1951. Lone attended the army language school at Presidio at Monterey, California, and was sent to Germany for 2 ½ years as a language specialist. He was honorably discharged in 1955.
Lone decided to further his education at Michigan State University, where he received a B.S. and M.S. degree in vegetable production.
It was at MSU that Lone would meet his future wife, Gayle Cattley. Lone said she “accidently” ran into him while the two were members of the sailing club. They were married July 6, 1957, and the couple eventually had twin boys, Steven and Mark, a daughter Laurie, and a son Todd.
After graduating from MSU, he was appointed a 4-H agent for three years and was later hired on at the H. J. Heinz Company as a vegetable growers’ agent.
Back in Newberry, Lone’s father and mother operated Lone’s Gardens, which was originally known as the OK Celery Garden owned by Lone’s grandfather John G. VanTuyl. The OK Celery Garden grew the famed Golden Plume Variety celery known throughout the United States.
After the death of Lone’s father, he returned to Newberry with his family to operate the farm in May of 1967. He became the third-generation gardener.
“It was a rather complex situation,” Lone explained. “I was a salesman, grower and harvester.” Gayle was a schoolteacher locally for many years.
When Lone returned to Newberry, he joined the American Legion Post 74 almost immediately, and at the time, the post was located in the old county poor house. The old building was outgrowing its need and a new facility was needed.
Lone served as the Post commander during the construction of the new Legion in 1977 and worked diligently with his fellow members to construct their new headquarters. He was an active member for many years, but eventually had to focus most of his energy at the gardens.
Lone retired and sold the farm in the late 1990s.
At the end of the April Legion meeting, the members voted on their officers for the coming year and discussed events and plans for this year.
Joe Bennett, who served as commander for two terms, passed the gavel to Anthony Kitzman. He is excited to serve as commander and is proud of his membership.
“I think it is a good place for outreach and a good place for the community to use,” Kitzman said. “We are going to do our best to help the community.”
New second-vice commander Becky Brockman said she is hoping to find more ideas for fundraisers and wants to help veterans that need it.
“We have accomplished a lot,” said Bennett, “and I enjoyed my time as commander.”