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Letter: How community cared for John Smallwood proved it's a wonderful place to live
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U.S. Army veterans and brothers John, right, and Horace Smallwood look around Lakewood Baptist Church as they stand for the song "The Army Goes Rolling Along" Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, during the annual Veterans Day program. - photo by Scott Rogers

I sincerely hope that everyone living in Gainesville and Hall County realize how fortunate we are to live in this wonderful area.

John Smallwood, World War II veteran passed away on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019. He was active in the Paul E. Bolding America Legion Post 7 for more than 50 years. John was the post commander 1983-1984. He served as assistant of sergeant of arms for the Department of Georgia three different times and was currently serving as the 9th District sergeant at arms and has served at the Paul E. Bolding Post 7 for 35 years.

He worked weekly at the post bingo since 1980 and was there the last Thursday he lived.

He had a team of doctors, Dr. William A. Manus, Dr. John J Marshall, Dr. Mehrdad S. Toosi and Dr. Deepak Aggarwal who extended his life past 95 years. They are excellent doctors and they seemed as family.

John lived a very active life, but January 2019, he had to slow down. This was very difficult for him. On Memorial Day he fell at his residence and we had to call 911 to get him up. The operator was very nice handling things in a professional matter. Fire Department Station No. 2 and EMTs arrived immediately, standing him on his feet. He was very appreciative of their assistance. 

They saw his tag showed he was a World War II veteran. They told me they would be back shortly to work in the yard. They returned to the station and came with equipment and supplies to clean the yard. They cleared the bushes by the end of the carport to eliminate the danger of snakes. They cleaned an overgrown hedge in front of the windows and cleaned the gutters. We couldn’t believe six firemen came and worked over an hour on a holiday. We asked them if we could serve them a lunch, and they said no, that was their job to help those who served our country. They told John he was very special.

We had to contact 911 five more times to help John get up from a fall. The operator was very pleasant and cordial and the EMTs and firemen were there immediately. They did an excellent job and became family members.

On Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, they were called the last time. When I told them he was not breathing, they arrived immediately with the city police department. Twelve people entered the house with equipment and confirmed that John was dead. They were polite, courteous and treated me with respect. The police stayed with me until the funeral home came to take him from the residence. 

I wish to thank all these people who were so nice and generous to me during this difficult time. They went beyond the call of duty. I encourage each of you when seeing these professionals —  shake their hand and thank them for the excellent job they perform. I certainly plan to do so.

Ann Parks

Flowery Branch

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