One of Brazil's oldest heroes needs help going home.
On Sept. 17, 1923, Richard Tabor was born in a little family homestead located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Park and Warren streets. He grew up with memories of the family using the nearby lot to grow a garden and raise some animals to get by during tough economic times.
"They were hard times, but they were good times," Tabor said with a contagious smile on his face. "Back then, you did what you had to, to have food on the table."
The little homestead was not too far from the wonders of the world.
"I sat on that porch one day and saw an airplane flying low on the horizon," Tabor said. "I love flying and it was so exciting. It was Charles Lindbergh on one of his flights."
A 1942 graduate of Brazil High School, Tabor was a 21-year-old army artillery serviceman when he crossed the English Channel as part of supporting efforts for D-Day and the subsequent fight in the Ardenne Forest as part of the Battle at the Bulge.
"I served under Dwight D. 'Ike' Eisenhower in the war," Tabor said of his military experience. "I made it home. I've always had God looking out for me over the years."
Arriving home in 1946, Tabor married his high school sweetheart, Melba Heffner. During their life together, Tabor worked as a head electrician at Mallory's in Greencastle, Melba became a nurse and the family expanded with two children.
After 54 years, his wife died.
"I've been so blessed in this life," he said. "I'm a happy person."
After meeting a "special woman" in church, Tabor "got lucky" and married Lilly Farris a while later. The two shared dreams of starting their own church, with Tabor studying to become an ordained minister and the couple working together to renovate the family home place.
However, after six years of marriage, Lilly became ill. Tabor spent two years at her bedside taking care of his ailing wife. With mounting medical bills, Tabor mortgaged the home to help pay for the expenses.
"It was the only thing I could do," he said. "We wanted to fix it up and come home, but she died."
But Tabor can't go home. He's been homeless for nearly two years now.
It's a tough economy, and it's hard for Tabor to ask for financial help from those who are also struggling.
"No one plans for something like this to happen," Tabor said. "It just did."
Other problems have also occurred over the years.
According to Tabor, "stuff accumulated during life and it just kind of filled the inside of the house." Mother Nature and more than 100 years of wear and tear have taken a toll on the structure of the home, and an addition on the home is falling in and needs to be removed. The simple amenity of electrical wiring throughout the home and indoor plumbing has never been fully implemented.
The house needs a lot of tender loving care for it to be livable, and for Tabor to move back inside.
Recently, the home was in jeopardy of being condemned by the City of Brazil. But, with the intervention of several friends, there is hope that Tabor won't have to sleep in his truck or randomly stay with anyone anymore.
"If we can get some help from volunteers who are willing to work here or help out with some materials, we can get Richard back into his home," Tabor's friend Charlotte Curd told The Brazil Times. "That's the goal, to get him in his home before winter arrives. He deserves this. Richard deserves to be able to go home."
Several of Tabor's friends have been clearing the inside of the home in preparation of the renovation project.
"This can be done," Curd said about work that needs to be done. "We just need the manpower and skilled people who are willing to donate their time to help this good man out in his time of need."
Volunteers are requested to bring their tools to Tabor's home, located at 821 North Warren St., Brazil, each Saturday (weather permitting), until the work is completed.
A building fund has been set up to cover project expenses at Fifth Third Bank, 637 East National Ave., Brazil.
According to bank officials, donations can be made to the "Richard Tabor Fund" at any Fifth Third Bank branch during normal banking hours at an inside teller window or at any drive-thru window.
For more information about participating in work details, donating supplies for the project or how to help Richard Tabor, contact Charlotte and Lonnie Curd at 812-986-2449.
"I'm the oldest and one of the last of the Tabors. I've had a good life," Tabor replied when asked how he felt about the situation he finds himself in during his golden years. "God watched over me, and I'm happy for it. I just want to go home. If I'm here, I'm happy. Even if it means I have to sleep in the truck outside, I'm happy to be home."