A model volunteer
Ernie Roeder still remembers the day in 1954 when he completed his service in the Army. Drafted in 1952, he served in the last year of the Korean War, and then spent four months at the Presidio. When he was finally released, he was given 58¢ for the bus fare to his home in Burlingame.
His high school sweetheart, Lucy, was waiting for him, and they married six months later. In their 57 years together, they raised three children in Burlingame, enjoyed many trips near and far, and loved spending time with their grandchildren and great grandchildren.
The family called Mission Hospice in December 2012 to help Lucy through her final battle with lung cancer. Ernie said, “They really took care of us – it was the most beautiful experience.”
Now Ernie is ensuring that other patients and families receive the same kind of compassionate care Lucy received. “I figured one thing my wife would love to have is a thank you to Mission Hospice.”
He is giving back in spades, helping wherever he is needed: assembling packets of wound care supplies for our nurses, creating binders of patient information, phoning to check in with hospice patients, providing information at public events, ushering at our “Light Up A Life” ceremony, and more.
Ernie takes the 15-minute walk from his home to the Mission Hospice office several times a week. But he’s also happy to drive – especially if it means he has a chance to show off his 1926 Model T Roadster pickup. His Model T drew a crowd when he brought it to Senior Day at the San Mateo County Fair in 2014, where he and other volunteers shared information about Mission Hospice.
Ernie has always loved driving, whether it was over the hill to his office in Half Moon Bay, where he worked as an engineer for Pacific Bell, or (in his retirement) as a tow truck driver for Palm Avenue Motors, as a private driver for a local widow, or behind the wheel of the RV in which he and Lucy took so many trips.
He recently took a week off from his volunteer work, driving to Arizona with a friend for a Model T Speedster run. He was back in the Mission Hospice office the day after he returned, eager to help.
Last Veterans’ Day, Ernie had a special assignment: he visited Mission Hospice patients who, like him, are veterans, delivering bouquets of red, white, and blue flowers – complete with flags. Ernie really enjoyed this role, describing one veteran who was particularly touched by the gesture. “When I gave him the flowers, he smiled the biggest smile – his son said it was the first time he’d smiled in over a month.”
Ernie certainly makes everyone who knows him smile – his twinkling blue eyes, earnest dedication, and kind spirit are infectious and inspiring. Volunteer Coordinator Rani Ferreira says, “I don’t know what we’d do without Ernie. He’ll help with anything at all, and he is so genuine and caring. He’s really a part of our family here at Mission Hospice.”