Twin World War II vets saluted at Lakewood Ranch charity lunch

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Tears were the order of the day.

Standing ovations were not.

Receiving the applause were World War II veterans Marian Boyer and Millie Dost, 91-year-old twin sisters who live in Westminster Communities, Bradenton.

The two were the guests of Denise and Jerry Hearn as the Lakewood Ranch Rotary Club distributed $100,000 in grants to 33 charities at Polo Grill on Thursday.

The two served as nurses during World War II: Boyer in the Navy, Dost in the Army.

They are among 60 local World War II vets who the Rotary Club is flying to Washington, D.C., in June to visit the World War II Memorial.

As she introduced the spry sisters, who stood, smiled and waved, Denise Hearn became a little emotional, considering the enormity of World War II and their service.

"We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by," Hearn said in paraphrasing Will Rogers.

Millie Dost entered the Army in late 1943. Marian Boyer joined the Navy a week later.

Dost said she had never worked with paraplegics before joining the Army. She would see many of them. Boyer would spend most of her service as a surgical nurse.

Asked why they didn't join the same branch of service, the sisters said they were living in different places, and one of them needed several tries to pass her physical.

Jerry Hearn said one of the sisters called to congratulate Rotary on sponsoring an Honor Flight. The Hearns then asked if the sisters had applied for the journey.

"It developed from there," Jerry Hearn said.

Barrie Wilkie of Harvest United Methodist Church brought tears to members of the audience when she talked about the pack-a-sack program and efforts to feed students at Samoset Elementary.

She talked about a student who is developmentally challenged because she doesn't receive enough nutrition, and is in kindergarten, rather than first-grade where she should be now.

Mike Feduccia of Manasota BUDS, the father of a child with Down Syndrome, had to compose himself when he reflected that all of the volunteers in the organization have children with similar challenges.

The $1,340 grant Manasota BUDS received will be used to help kids learn water safety and to swim, he said.

"We are privileged to live in a community that does so much good," Feduccia said.

The grants awarded Thursday are proceeds from the annual Suncoast Food and Wine Fest, which has raised more than $1 million for charity since 2001.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or follow him on Twitter @jajones1.