Honoring A Life Service: Jerry Hampton

Jerry Hampton has spent his entire life serving others, from joining the army as a young man to spending time with fellow veterans at the end of their lives, as a volunteer with EveryStep Hospice in Osceola and Mount Ayr.  

 Hampton, who lives in Lamoni, was recently honored for his dedication to his country and fellow Americans with a special Quilts of Valor ceremony on April 26.

Surrounded by his family, including his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, Hampton was presented with a patriotic red, white, and blue quilt made by the Piece Works Quilt group from Winterset. The ceremony included a reading of Hampton's military and volunteer history, a poem, and the singing of two songs, Sentimental Journey and God Bless America.

Quilts of Valor are awarded to military members and veterans who have been touched by war. The mission of the organization is to cover service members with comfort and healing, while recognizing their service both to the armed forces and their communities. 

Hampton served as a company clerk at an army special weapons base in New Mexico from 1954 to 1956.

After returning to Iowa, Hampton joined the faculty of Graceland University in 1960, where he coached many sports teams and influenced countless students as a masterful teacher.

"Even if he didn’t coach you, he influenced you with his positive outlook and remarkable ways," Angi Dodge, EveryStep Hospice volunteer coordinator, said during the ceremony. "I have heard that Jerry’s Pizza Shack was the place to go for students to socialize and make memories. Jerry didn’t retire until far later than most of his colleagues, always aspiring to do his best and help others."

And that's just what he's done as a constant volunteer in his community. In the past, Hampton has volunteered his time at the Festival of Trees in Des Moines, done pastoral care for prisoners in Jefferson City Correctional Center and assisted in the annual John Stoddard Rally Against Cancer Benefit program.

Most recently, Hampton has served as a Veteran Volunteer for EveryStep Hospice, formerly HCI Hospice. Through the program, Hampton sees veterans and other patients of EveryStep Hospice in the Osceola and Mount Ayr areas. 

Hampton spends his time offering companionship to patients by talking, reading and sitting with them, helping them come to terms with past events and find peace at the end of their lives.

He also make a point to attend Veteran Pinning Ceremonies for EveryStep patients.

Veteran Pinning ceremonies provide honor, dignity and recognition to veterans at the end of their lives. Family members and friends are often on hand with EveryStep staff and volunteers during the celebratory events.  The ceremonies include the Pledge of Allegiance, a prayer of thanks, the awarding of a veteran service flag pin, the signing of “God Bless America,” a reading of What is a Veteran, and the presentation of a certificate of recognition.

For his volunteer work, Hampton received the Lifetime Presidential Volunteer Service Award for more than 10,000 hours of service to his community. The honor was bestowed upon Hampton at a surprise reception in 2015. 

"Jerry does not seek recognition for his service," Dodge notes. "However, being such a good example for his family, his friends, his church family and his fellow volunteers, we know that he is the kind of person that we all aspire to be. We want to recognize his actions here today to let him know that all of his service to his country and his fellow man has not gone unseen."

Those interested in learning more about volunteering with EveryStep Hospice are encouraged to complete our volunteer interest form, and we’ll connect you with an EveryStep program that could use your time and talents!

Top photo: Jerry Hampton received a Quilt of Valor in honor of his service to his country. Jerry served as company clerk at an army special weapons base in New Mexico from 1954 to 1956.

Bottom photo: Jerry Hampton was joined with current and former EveryStep volunteer coordinators a the Quilts of Valor ceremony. Pictured are (left to right) Karen Irwin, (volunteer coordinator Osceola), Jerry Hampton, Angi Dodge (volunteer coordinator Mt. Ayr) and Cindy Mitchell (former volunteer coordinator Mount Ayr).