The Backus American Legion will honor two members of the Legion Auxiliary — Charlotte Thaler and Helen Reeve — for their 60 years of service with the Auxiliary at the Monday, April 22, business meeting.
Reeve was a charter member, a distinction Thaler missed by just a few months.
“We moved up here and my mother had joined, so I just joined. And I enjoyed it. We did a lot of different work with different people. It was just a way of helping the community,” Thaler said.
Both of these distinguished members were raised in families with military ties.
“My husband was a veteran, and then my oldest son was in the service. He was in the Air Force. My youngest son was in the Navy for a while,” Thaler said. “My brother was in the service, my husband’s brothers. We were just service-minded people.”
Likewise, Reeve’s also had many family members in the service, including one younger brother.
“He was a senior in high school. And that was quite a deal. They (his classmates) all wanted to join in January and all go together, but he wasn’t 18 until May,” Reeve said. “So he worked on my dad until he signed for him, and then they went in January and he was killed in June.”
Reeve also had many cousins in the service, one of whom was killed at Pearl Harbor and another at the Battle of the Bulge.
Though both Auxiliary members appreciate the honor they will receive, they are both humble about their service to the group. Neither is hesitant to show appreciation for the hard work of their fellow members.
“I’m just an ordinary person who likes to help as often as I can. I worked with a lot of the ladies, and they did just as much if not more than what I have done. I enjoyed being with them and we did lots for different organizations. We just helped out the community, that’s all,” Thaler said. “I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m bragging (about myself). I’m bragging about the Legion, yes. I’m bragging about the Auxiliary because they are a good group of people. I’m very proud of our Legion and Auxiliary.”
Though it has since grown, Thaler remembers a time when there were only 12 Auxiliary members. Unfortunately, many of those Thaler and Reeve worked alongside are no longer around. It is for this, and other reasons, that the Auxiliary honors those it still can.
“I am only 81 years old and she (Reeve) is 96 years old, so we’re not young people anymore,” Thaler said. “We just worked together, all of us did, but a lot of the old members are gone now, too.”
“I’m very fortunate to still be here. That’s the way I feel about it. I’m in pretty good health,” Reeve said.
Since joining the Auxiliary, Thaler has held every position except historian, and she is still currently on a board. Reeve holds a lifetime membership and has held each chair at least once before becoming a president twice. She was treasurer for 24 years because she enjoyed the job nobody else seemed to want.
“I enjoyed being treasurer, too. If I didn’t understand something I didn’t say a word to anyone, I just called the department in St. Paul and the nice lady down there told me what I needed to know, and I thought that was nice,” Reeve said.
They’ve worked together with the Auxiliary for many years.
“She’s a wonderful person. How else would you describe her?” Thaler said. “A wonderful person and a good friend.”
“Charlotte and I are very good friends. Her oldest and my oldest went to school together and graduated together. She had a boy and I had a girl,” Reeve said. “She and I always got along. She and I were the ones that organized the breakfast.”
Though Thaler and Reeve both seem more proud of their fellow members than they are of themselves, those who worked alongside them have a real appreciation for all they have done.
“I’ve lived up here full time since 2001, so for 12 years I’ve known both of them fairly well,” said Jean Dawson, another former Auxiliary president. “They’ve both put in a lot of time over the years. They were instrumental in working very hard towards making sure the Legion had the money to buy the building for the club to keep it running and operational. We just wanted to recognize that and they are hard workers.”