Military Backgrounds Bond Surviving Spouses at Bob Hope Village
“We all have had many of the same experiences, and I think that’s what bonds us.”
by Amelia Hizer
In Peg ’s poem “A Military Wife,” she describes her life as a military wife as being “equally mingled with joy and strife.” In truth, is someone who understands the sadness and joy that life can bring, especially regarding love.
Shortly after graduating from high school, Peg decided to take a position as a secretary in the ROTC unit at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. At the time, Lehigh University was an all-male college, and Peg was one of two women working in the ROTC unit. When Peg took the position, she had no idea she would meet the love of her life and her future husband in the small confines of the department.
One workday, shortly after Peg took the position, her supervisor put two applications with attached pictures on her desk and asked her to choose which applicant would be the best addition to their staff. “I picked Leonard because I thought he was so handsome,” Peg notes. “I remember saying to myself that I wouldn’t ever want to be saddled with that man, which is funny because I ended up marrying him.”
Almost immediately after he began working at the office, Leonard developed an infatuation for Peg, something that was easily returned. Peg recalls, “I learned years later that he had wanted to ask me to the military ball before we started dating but was too nervous. He drove all the way to my house and chickened out before I even knew he was there.”
Despite the game of cat and mouse, Leonard eventually asked Peg on a real date. “We went to see a drive-in movie. After that, we dated for a while, but my father wanted me to wait until I was eighteen to get married. We had to keep it a secret from our co-workers though since dating within the office wasn’t really allowed,” Peg explains.
Eventually, the two lovebirds were able to get married. During their forty-eight years of marriage, Leonard served twenty years in the Air Force, earning the title of Technical Sergeant and allowing his family to live in various locations around the world. From England and Germany to multiple locations in the United States, the couple raised their six children with an appreciation for different cultures and areas of the world.
Their life together was filled with laughter and adventure. In particular, the couple thoroughly enjoyed their life in Germany. “We really loved Germany. We rented a German family’s home and really became close with our neighbors. It was a great experience and chapter in our life together,” Peg says. From living in a small apartment in England to constantly moving and adjusting to their new homes, the pair decided to embrace life at every turn.
As the years progressed, Peg and Leonard’s love did little to falter. When asked to describe one of her most treasured moments with her husband Peg reminisces, “One Valentine’s Day later in our marriage he bought me carnations of every pastel color. He knew how much I loved them and the simple gesture made my day. He always knew how to make my day.”
After Leonard retired from the Air Force, he began work at the Hurlburt Field Credit Union and the couple moved to Niceville, Florida. Ten years prior to Peg moving to Bob Hope Village, she encouraged her husband to put their name on the waiting list at Teresa Village “just in case we got to the point where we wanted to retire in a community,” Peg explains.
Sadly, Leonard passed away before the couple’s name was even close to the front of the waiting list. “When Leonard passed we were number two hundred and five on the waiting list,” Peg notes. “However, I had no idea that because I was now a widow I had an extended priority for a space at Bob Hope Village.”
Thankfully, once Peg had decided that living by herself in Niceville was too much of a burden, a spot opened up for her at Bob Hope Village. “I was so isolated at our house in Niceville after Leonard died. Living alone without a close community like I have now was so difficult. I’m a very social person, but since I didn’t drive often, it was difficult for me to see my friends in the area,” Peg recalls.
Undoubtedly, the move to Bob Hope Village has been a positive experience for Peg. In particular, she appreciates the sense of community at Bob Hope Village. Peg notes that she “has made some dear friends here that mean the world to me.” She further explains that this sense of community stems from the fact that her friends at Bob Hope Village all come from some sort of military background. “We have all had many of the same experiences, and I think that is what bonds us.”
Peg’s story illustrates only one of many instances in which a widow’s quality of life has been greatly improved by living at the Air Force Enlisted Village. Without contributions from our generous supporters, women like Peg would not have the opportunity to live in this supportive community with individuals who have shared the same experiences. Peg puts it best when she says, “This is my adopted family, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”