Article – Novel Coronavirus


After canceling her father’s 90th birthday party amid the novel coronavirus

After canceling her father’s 90th birthday party amid the novel coronavirus, Tracy Rodecker decided on the next best thing — a parade for William Barnhouse, a Korean War veteran and Painesville resident.

“He is turning 90, Nov. 29,” said Rodecker, of Painesville. “My brother, (who) flew in from Florida, is at the house with my dad and that’s actually three generations of military — my dad, my brother and his daughter.”

Family and friends, and members of the American Legion Post 336, VFW Post 2595 and the Painesville Moose Lodge 490 gathered with Painesville first responders at Harvey High School Nov. 21 for the start of Barnhouse’s birthday parade. Participants then proceeded to parade by Barnhouse’s home on Marion Avenue in Painesville.

“It’s a surprise. He has no clue,” Rodecker said with a laugh. “My brother just texted and he goes, ‘I got a chair out front without him knowing.’ “

Jackie Smeby, past auxiliary president and current member, has known Barnhouse since 2010, the year she became a VFW member.

Barnhouse is just like someone’s favorite grandpa, Smeby said, and does not know of anyone nicer.

“I just love seeing things like this go on. It’s bringing the community together. It’s showing us there’s still love out there,” she said. “Bill is such a sweetheart. He’s going to cry.”

Jill Householder, another auxiliary member and parade participant, said she was glad the parade was the final decision. Even if people cannot get close, the parade still allowed for people to see each other, she said.

“We haven’t seen each other. I haven’t seen anyone since Oct. 19. I can’t do hugs, but I can do waves,” Householder said. “Jackie and I have the same birthday and we couldn’t even celebrate it together.”

Barnhouse always said hello to Householder and her husband when they were in the canteen, and he worked hard as a canteen manager for many years, she said.

“He sits quietly, but he will talk with people,” Householder said. “When they say nice guys, that’s Bill to me.”

From another veteran’s perspective, something like the parade is very important, said David Seibert, United States Navy veteran, and American Legion and VFW member.


“(Barnhouse) served his country, fought in the Korean War and he’s been a very dedicated person,” he said. “I think it shows we appreciate what he did for his country.”

Seibert moved to Painesville in 1977 and met Barnhouse between 1978 and 1979. Barnhouse was always willing to help those in need, he said.

“He’s a very patriotic man toward his country,” Seibert said. “I think (the parade) will be a good surprise for him.”

The parade shows that people still care about Barnhouse, said Barbara James, current, and long time member of the VFW.

“His wife and her sisters talked me into joining the VFW,” she said. “Bill and I are the last of the oldies. I’ve never seen him mad. He always has the same attitude.”

Shannon Timbrook, Rodecker’s best friend and long time friend of the family, said the parade was a fantastic idea. Knowing Barnhouse, she thinks his reaction will be emotional, she said.

“She had planned a party for him at the American Legion,” Timbrook said. “Unfortunately, (the coronavirus) hit and I think she’s doing the right thing. God bless her.”

Barnhouse is kind, gentle, sweet and one of the best people Timbrook knows.

“I have no words,” she said. “To be acknowledged at this time, he’s 90 years old, served our country — he deserves it. It’s the right thing to do.”

Rodecker said it’s important that people don’t forget who their soldiers are.

“They fought for us. We’ve got to remember them,” she said. “This was spur of the moment due to (the coronavirus). I hope next year we can have a party, and be able to have everybody hug him and kiss him.”