Marty Lovik, Carolyn Croxford installed as veterans leaders

Sean C. Morgan

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3437 installed Marty Lovik as its new commander and the Auxiliary installed Carolyn Croxford as president last week.

The two organizations held installation ceremonies on April 22.

Croxford, 60, continues as president after serving a partial term. She became president when Becki Tierce resigned mid-term.

Lovik, 58, succeeds Vern Holdridge. They officially take office in June.

Croxford has been involved with the Sweet Home Vets Club for three years, she said. She initially was part of the AmVets Auxiliary. Her late husband had served in the Air Force. After the auxiliary shut down, she joined the VFW Auxiliary through her daughter, Valerie Bartley, who served in the Army in the Middle East. She is a member of the club’s color guard.

She is a retired bartender. She had owned a bar in California before moving to Sweet Home about five years ago.

Croxford enjoys the club’s and veterans groups’ “camaraderie, the family and the good that they do,” she said. “When my husband passed away, this was the best place to be.”

As president, a firm believer in giving blood, she has initiated a regular blood drive at the club, she said. The club held its most recent blood donation event on Thursday.

Lovik was an “Army brat” born in Albany. His family called Sweet Home home after his grandparents moved to the community.

He has been a member of the VFW since 1991. He served in the Army as a squad leader and platoon sergeant on a Chaparral missile crew during Desert Storm. The missile, the same as the Sidewinder, is used for low-altitude anti-air defense.

“I brought (Shawn) Noble (his sister-in-law’s brother) home,” Lovik said. “He was the only veteran to die out of Linn County during that conflict.”

Noble is buried in Liberty Cemetery.

Lovik has worked a variety of jobs, including bartending and the railroad, until he retired due to disability.

He got involved in the VFW because “I love my country,” he said. “I like my community. I like to show respect to the people that earned it.”

On top of that, the club has a great color guard and can still march in parades, finishing second in last year’s Albany Veterans Day Parade, he said.

This year, Lovik wants to focus on expanding membership and getting more involved in the community, he said. “We do a lot anyway. Getting involved in the community lets them know we’re here for a reason.”

Coming up, the club already has its game plan for Memorial Day and will honor the many fallen veterans from the area along with their family members, Lovik said.

Service to veterans is one of the key reasons he joined and continues to serve as a member of the VFW, Lovik said. It used to be that one paycheck supported a family. Today, it takes both parents working, and that makes it difficult for soldiers who are deployed, leaving just one parent to take care of the family.

His family has experienced it, he said. He has two sons serving active duty right now, and one is about to be deployed for the third time.

The VFW is committed to welcoming home veteran soldiers from combat zones, Lovik said, noting the lengths that Vietnam veterans went to ensure in the future that no returning veterans “would be treated the way that they were treated.”

The VFW and Auxiliary are assets to active-duty families, Lovik said, and the auxiliary is the heart of it.

The auxiliary wants to make sure those families know they can come to the club for help, Croxford said.

“The auxiliary is basically the workhorse of the place,” Lovik said. Their activities range from nursing home visits and taking care of active-duty families to preparing chow for events.

The club has, for example, low-cost medical equipment, Croxford said.

She intends to continuing organizing blood drives, and the auxiliary is focused on increasing patriotism, Croxford said. The auxiliary is trying to teach children patriotism. At this time, it hosts patriotic essay and art contests for youths.

The two will be dropping by at area businesses and organizations just to let people know what they’re up to, they said.

Also installed in the VFW were Howard Ruby as senior vice commander, Ron Wilson as junior vice commander, Marion Frits as chaplain and Lorenzo Pike as quartermaster. Stan Grey continues to lead the color guard and honor guard.

Installed in the auxiliary were Denise Lovik as senior vice president, Lea Davis as junior vice president, Rose-Marie Allyn as secretary and Cathy Lindsay as treasurer.

For more information about the VFW, to join or to get involved, call the Vets Club, 580 Main St., at (541) 367-4435, Lovik at (541) 451-0087 or Croxford at (541) 248-0200.