John Pelham might’ve taken off his Army uniform for the last time 50 years ago, but it doesn’t mean that he’s completely given up on serving his community.
The 84-year-old Granbury resident has been an active volunteer for Meals on Wheels of Hood County for the last 15 years, delivering food to the residents on the north side of Hood County.
Pelham was also instrumental in starting a Meals on Wheels volunteer team within the First Christian Church of Granbury, assembling a group of 15 church members to deliver meals to Hood County residents each week on Thursdays and Fridays.
“The people we deliver to don’t just need food,” he said. “You never know how you’re going to find them, what kind of situation they’re going to be in. We may be the only live people they see during the day, and so if they want to interact a little bit, we call and visit with them. We deliver a whole lot more than food.”
He first got involved with volunteer work when he was a 4-H agent in San Antonio, spending his time recruiting volunteers and keeping them active within the organization. Unfortunately, after a few years, he started getting bogged down with volunteering and wasn’t enjoying his normal recreational activities.
To satisfy his desire for teaching — and giving him an excuse to cut back on his volunteer work — Pelham became an adjunct professor in the sociology department at Tarleton State University, where he taught for five years.
After retiring, one of his friends who was active in Meals on Wheels inspired Pelham to continue his volunteer work delivering meals to residents who couldn’t obtain food on their own.
“It’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “The cliché of being of service to others — that’s the main reason any of us do it. These people need our service, but it’s beyond the food; it’s the personal contact, just a friendly face and a friendly comment or two.”
A common saying in the military is, “once a soldier, always a soldier,” and perhaps Pelham’s prior service is what fuels his desire in continuing to assist members of his community.
After receiving his commission in the Army from Texas A&M in 1960, Pelham traveled to Fort Eustis, Virginia to attend the US Army Transportation Corps and School where he was assigned to the 13th Transportation Battalion and Second Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia.
He served from 1960-1962 before transferring to the Army Reserve from 1962-1967, at which point he resigned his commission as a captain.
One of Pelham’s passions is writing poetry, but he especially had an interest in cowboy poetry, so he attended the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada in 2000. This spurred his desire to publish five poetry books. One of his poems by him was called, “So what did you do to celebrate your 80th?”
For Pelham’s 80th birthday, he got the opportunity to visit New York City with the Acton United Methodist Church, where they were invited to sing as a combined choir at Carnegie Hall.
Pelham has lived in Granbury for 27 years and has lived a full life. He and his wife, Rita, have traveled to all 50 states, as well as Scotland, England, Spain and almost all of the provinces of Canada.
“I’ll be 85 in November, so you know, somewhere along those 85 years, you gotta have some experience,” he said, with a grin.