Issaquah Valley Grange honors David Waggoner as its man of the year

April 20, 2010

By David Hayes

David Waggoner seems to be the community’s go-to guy when a volunteer is needed. Take last year, for example.

Waggoner of course accepted the offer when U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert asked him to serve on the board of volunteers of the Honor Flights Project. The project flies World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to view the national memorial for the war.

“I was honored to give my time and effort to get as many of them back to D.C. as we could,” said Waggoner, 66, himself a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Because of his selfless efforts helping those in the community, the Issaquah Valley Grange is honoring him with its Man of the Year award for 2010 next week.

For a man who seemingly was never short on time to volunteer for one group or another, Waggoner was surprisingly short of words when it came to being honored for his efforts.

“I am humbled by the man of the year,” he said. “I have never been one before. I have no other words to say.”

Dave Waggoner, with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3436, speaks to the audience at Veterans Day ceremonies last November at Issaquah City Hall.

By Greg Farrar

That just may be because he usually lets his actions do the speaking. When not on his full-time job of bus driver for King County Metro Transit, Waggoner, who was raised in Issaquah on his grandparents’ dairy farm, has compiled quite the volunteer’s résumé:

  • Docent for the Issaquah Historical Society since 1998, greeting the community at the Issaquah Train Depot Museum.
  • Docent for Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery since 1998, giving tours of the hatchery, as many as 300-500 school children, two a day for three days a week, including long hours at the Salmon Days Festival.
  • Chairman of the Issaquah Cemetery Board, organizing honor ceremonies during Memorial Day and Veterans Day observances.
  • Organized fund drive collecting more than $11,000 for the families of the slain Lakewood Police officers.
  • Past post commander and current assistant quartermaster of the Issaquah Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3436.

One of the Issaquah VFW’s programs Waggoner is most proud of is the new flags the unit donates each Veterans Day to the city to fly on its 11 flag poles.

“I believe as long as there are men and women in uniform serving in harm’s way, then the city should have new flags to fly in their honor,” Waggoner said.

But it’s the Honor Flights Project he’s pouring the most effort into at the moment. Waggoner said he’d hoped to get a group flown out last fall, but the funding didn’t materialize. The board of directors has to solicit donations to fund the flights, which has to pay not only the vets’ way east but also one attendant for every three vets. It takes about $1,000 per veteran to participate in the Honor Flight Program. Waggoner thinks targeting individual donors will work better than hitting up corporate sponsors, for a trip for 10-12 vets in May.

“Even in this economy, it should be a priority to get these vets to Washington, D.C., as a way to repay our debt to them,” he said. “They’re getting up there in age and can’t wait for better economic times.”

Waggoner’s own father and uncle served in World War II but weren’t around long enough to see the finished memorial.

“But I do have a person in the Issaquah unit, Norm Peery, who’s 83, in good health, who I’d like to take back with the first group,” Waggoner said. “So we could stand together at the memorial, solute the flag and honor our families. I’d love to see the look in his eyes at that moment.”

David Hayes: dhayes@isspress.com, 392-6434, ext. 237. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

If you goIf you go

Issaquah Valley Grange Man of the Year ceremony
  • 7:30 p.m. April 26
  • Issaquah Masonic Temple, Third Floor, 57 W. Sunset Way
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