Clarence Gibelhouse, affectionately known as “Curly” is a resident at Russellville Park. Curly is a World War II Veteran who has a heart of gold and has taken his commitment to service from the front lines to his life in assisted living. We are excited to share Curly’s story of service to our country, his family, and our community, Russellville Park with you.
Remembering Curly’s Military Service
Born in Wapato, Washington in 1920, Curly enlisted in the Army at the age of 19. He specialized in Artillery and served as a Lineman. During his six years in the United States Army, he learned a lot about his jobs and people.
Like many Veterans, Curly has both good and bad memories of his service in World War II. In one of his most prominent memories, he is walking into a room and sees an elderly woman and a young girl. The elderly woman was severely wounded; he called for medics to assist. He remembers she was wearing a blue dress with white polka dots and white socks. To this day he still wonders if she made it, and on occasion, if he sees a dress that matches hers, he thinks about her.
Curly was awarded for his loyal and sacrificial service, given awards from both The Kingdom of Belgium and President Harry Truman.
Finding True Love
In 1946 Curley met Darline while out with friends. He knew right away she was The One for him. They were married that same year.
Darline was an amazing cook, an excellent fisher, and a loving mother and wife. Curly says that everything she cooked was his favorite. He learned a lot from his wife, including fishing tips. Curly and Darline had one daughter and they raised her son, who was 7 when they got married.
His family was his world and he loved everything about them. He traveled frequently with his family while he was the Director of the Postal Credit Union, and has many souvenirs from those travels. In 2001 Darline was diagnosed with cancer. The doctor only gave her six months to live but she fought hard for 3 ½ years before finally succumbing to the disease. Curly says his hardest day was saying his final goodbye to Darline, the love of his life.
Giving Back to the Medical Community
Curly was moved to give back to the medical community by the people that assisted in caring for his wife while she fought cancer. He saw firsthand the personal toll that losing a patient can have on nurses, often leaving them experiencing the same pain as a close loved one. His appreciation for those nurses and his desire to serve brought him to Providence Portland as a volunteer.
Curly is a volunteer in the Short Stay unit where he assists patients who are going to have surgery that day. He has dedicated more than 2,250 hours of service since he has begun volunteering.
Tricia Sullivan, Director of Volunteer Services at Providence Portland says,
“Curly is an inspiration to us all. He comes in before 6:00 a.m. and helps greet the patients before surgery. He wheels them out as well – better than some people can who are half his age.”
His favorite thing about volunteering is meeting different people, even becoming “Grandpa Curly” to a young girl. Not only does Curly volunteer but he has donated over 3 gallons of blood to the American Red Cross. He has a rare blood type and has been called specifically to donate. He has never said no.
Volunteering takes a special person with a big heart to continue to care for those in need. We all could learn something from a person like Curly, who has taken the love for his wife, and the love for the nurses and turned it into something he’s very passionate about.
Live Big. Live Bold.
Retirement should feel like you’re on a permanent vacation which is exactly why our communities celebrate freedom from obligation, helping you pursue new interests.