At age 96, Helen Anderson Glass is still giving back to veterans and the Tucson community.
Among Glass’ first loves is sewing — a craft she learned in high school home economics class while living in Verona, New Jersey. She used her grandmother’s Singer sewing machine with a foot pedal and is now on her fourth machine — a Kenmore.
“I sew every day,” said Glass while gathering cloth to finish a tote bag in the living room of her northwest-side home. “When I am sewing, friends have to remind me to eat and drink my water,” she said, explaining how she loses track of time.
She has donated thousands of items, including baby clothes, tote bags, lap robes, blankets, pillows, aprons and backpacks to veterans and their families, including those staying at the Fisher House at the Tucson VA Medical Center. She also sews for fundraisers held by the Casas Adobes American Legion Auxiliary Unit 73.
On Saturday, April 20, the Casas Adobes American Legion Post 73 is honoring Glass for her volunteerism and for being a continuous member of the American Legion for 75 years.
“Helen is among the oldest members and she continues giving back to the community, helping veterans and their families,” said Commander Rick Recuparo.
Glass will be recognized at a buffet luncheon at the Kettle Restaurant, 748 W. Starr Pass Blvd. The event is open to the public and will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. in the restaurant’s banquet room.
“This recognition is an honor,” said Glass. “I have been proud to be a member of the legion.”
She has served in administrative and officer posts in New Jersey, Florida and Arizona, moving to Tucson in 1976 and two years later beginning her volunteerism at the VA Medical Center. Glass volunteered doing office work and she helped out in different areas of the hospital.
In 2002, Glass said she was recognized by the hospital as VA Woman Volunteer of the Year and that same year was inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame. These honors are among dozens awarded to her by local, state and national organizations.
Karen Borth, secretary of the legion auxiliary, added: “Helen stands out in longevity and dedication. She is absolutely tireless. She has been awarded honors by many military organizations for her books of poetry recognizing men and women.”
Glass can trace her lineage back to relatives serving in the Revolutionary War on up to those serving in the Gulf War.
She is a Navy veteran herself, serving during World War II in the WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. She comes from generations of patriots, including her father, a World War I veteran, and her brother, who was killed during World War II on the USS Savannah at Salerno, Italy, while supporting Allied forces.
Her brother and the other patriots in her family are among the reasons Glass, who served as an airplane mechanic, has volunteered for decades serving veterans and their families.
Glass began writing poetry as a child and later her poems honoring veterans were published in magazines, including winning gold medals from the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival.
Her winning poems were “Peace,” “Battleground Love” and “I Am Not an Idol I Am a Symbol, I Am Your Flag.”
Her works include more than 500 poems and she self-published two poetry books, one honoring men in the armed forces and the other women.
“I want to give back to my community and veterans for all they have given to me,” said Glass. “Our veterans put their lives on the line for me and you, and they deserve the best of care and that they be remembered.”