GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — The story of a community coming together to honor late World War II veteran Gordon Hale sparked warm memories for a man who used to call him “Uncle Gordy.”
On Saturday, Scott Daniels met with 24 Hour News 8 at Hale’s final resting place at Lake Forest Cemetery in Grand Haven.
“This must be it here,” Daniels said as he looked at the freshly-turned earth at the gravesite awaiting a headstone.
Daniels said he and his five brothers and sisters spent a lot of time with Gordon Hale and his late wife Eva. In the 1960s and ’70s, the family spent holidays at Hales’ Allendale home, which is now a used car lot.
“Christmases out at the house with Aunt Eva and Uncle Gordy,” Daniels said, remembering the good times. “Coming out in the middle of the night with the whole (Santa Claus) outfit on, bells and everything, we’d all wake up and there he’d be putting stuff under the tree.”
Daniels said Hale had no children of his own and the close relationship was good for everyone.
“I think we really made his day by coming over to the house and just filling the house with family,” he said
The Hales were even named the kids’ godparents.
“Most of the memories I had with Gordy was going out on the rowboat and doing a lot of fishing,” Daniels said. “Always a great time, going out there in the summertime, it’s great. Then they had a cabin up north somewhere.”
But when Daniels’ parents died in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the kids’ connection to their godparents was lost.
Then on Thursday, he saw Hale’s story on 24 Hour News 8.
When Hale, 90, died at Sanctuary at the Shore nursing home in Grand Haven, where he lived for 14 years, he was believed to have no family. Not wanting him to buried alone, his caretakers, the funeral home and Grand Haven American Legion put together a military send-off attended by more than 150 people, many of whom didn’t know Hale.
“After I heard the story, I was flooded the memories and all pretty much good memories,” Daniels said.
He was glad to see so many people showed up to honor Hale.
At the nursing home, Daniels saw the flag that had been placed on Uncle Gordy’s casket, along with the spent shells from the three-volley salute at his graveside.
“He did not die alone as we thought,” Daniels said.