By Philip Case,
While some members of his family think 77-year-old Tom Quisenberry should slow down, he says he’s not quite ready yet — and may never be.
“I took it easy on Labor Day,” he said, “then laid around a little on Tuesday. I told my wife, ‘I’ve got to do something.’”
Maggie, his wife of 52 years, is used to her husband being involved in numerous volunteer efforts, including working a regular shift at the Soup Kitchen and helping at the Sunshine Center. She participates in many of the activities, too.
Quisenberry is a Vietnam veteran and a career military man who has worked in Frankfort since 1973 with the National Guard after his active service ended. He was a supply and combat helicopter pilot during 1967, his year in Vietnam.
He has 34 years of military service, six of them as an active serviceman and 28 at the National Guard. When he retired he was the state army aviation officer, serving as commander of all army aviation assets in the state, both helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft.
As a helicopter pilot in 1991, Quisenberry flew the adjutant general into Wilmore for the dedication of the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center. It wasn’t long after his involvement with the facility began, one that seems logical given his many years of military service.
The Quisenberrys’ daughter, Michelle, served an internship at Thomson-Hood in 1992 and she’s been the full-time activities director there since then.
“She got me involved helping,” he said.
He holds cookouts for the more than 150 residents of the facility and visits with them. He said few have many, if any, visitors.
“I’ve also been involved in presenting them medals they earned while in service, particularly those who were in World War II” he said. “After the war metal was scarce and they were given paper awards. It’s moving to present them with a real medal. Many break down and cry.”
Since 2012, members of the missions committee at Quisenberry’s church (Bridgeport Christian), have sent birthday cards to each of the residents. “It means so much to them,” he said. “It’s like many of them were just put in there and left, they have little family.”
They also try to give the residents gifts at Christmas, something special they’ve said they want.
“One lady said she wanted cosmetics and a jewelry box. We were able to get them for her,” Quisenberry said.
“The joy on their faces means so much. I think I get as much out of the giving — and we all do — as they do receiving.”
In addition to his work with Thomson-Hood, he and Maggie started a program with the Sunshine Center to help families that come through the local abuse center.
“We try to help them get set up for house keeping so that they can become self-sufficient. Many of them have absolutely nothing,” Quisenberry said.
The Quisenberrys visit yard and garage sales to find things they need. When others find out what they’re doing, they often pitch in and help.
The morning of an interview with The State Journal interview he’d been to pick up some items for the Sunshine Center.
“Our garage is packed but it’s for a good cause and we’re helping,” Quisenberry said.
The soft-spoken Quisenberry, who’s originally from Winchester, says volunteering makes him feel good.
“I love to see how others react,” he said.
To nominate a volunteer you know who needs to be in the spotlight, email The State Journal at email@example.com.