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Gerry Shippee: Passion for veterans, heart for service
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Gerry Shippee is a longtime Turlock resident and past president of the American Legion Auxiliary. - photo by Journal file photo

Gerry Shippee is a longtime Turlock resident and past president of the American Legion Auxiliary.

Q. What precipitated your involvement in the American Legion Auxiliary and how long have you been a member?

A. "My husband had been in the service, but he was shot down so he was able to exit when he wanted to because of his awards. He received the Purple Heart, Distinguished Flyers Cross, and the air medal. We relocated to Turlock in the 1940s and didn’t know anybody, so I became involved in a lot of organizations, including the American Legion Auxiliary. I eventually became the president of the local unit and held all offices at the district level. I was also chairman for the National Security for the department."


Q. Which American Legion Auxiliary programs are closest to your heart and why?

A. "It’s hard to say a favorite. Any program that deals specifically with veterans and their children, as well as those serving overseas. I have enjoyed going to the Livermore hospital for veterans where we have helped veterans send gifts to their loved ones by wrapping them and paying for the postage."

Q. What is the best thing about being a part of the American Legion Auxiliary?

A. "The comradeship that comes with working with the auxiliary unit. It inspired me to make my own trip overseas to an air base in Frankfurt, Germany in 2003. I was initially supposed to go with a friend, but when she could not make it I still went on my own. I raised $4,000 in cash from Unit 88, our local unit in Turlock, that I brought to Rheim Air Base and spent two weeks there. I helped make 50 gallon pots of coffee each morning and talked with those who were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, as well as those preparing to head home to the states."

Q. What do you look forward to the most each day?

A. "Well, at 88 years old, I look forward to getting up. But I enjoy spending time with my family and sitting outside on my patio, also, gardening. My husband and I used to own and operate the Turlock Refrigeration Center. We filled in the Turlock Plunge in 1963, and opened a beautiful showroom but since then the days are a lot slower. 

Q. What change would you like to see happen in Turlock in the next five years?

A. "Cut down on crime and more activities for seniors and children."

Q. What do you think Turlock should be most proud of?

A. "I think that it is a friendly place and also that the downtown has been spruced up, which is very nice."

Q. What do you like to do for fun?

A. "I love to travel though, I can’t get out as much anymore. But I also like to scrapbook my photos from trips."

Q. What was the last thing you read?

A. "The Bible. I read the Bible and that’s about it."

Q. What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

A. "That I’m an enormous SF Giants fan. I go to spring training every year."