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91-Year-Old Veteran Continues Service Through Blood Donation

Life is about service – at least, it is for one West Michigan man.

 “I was in the Army Air Force Band…I played baritone,” said Bruce DePree, “That is…I did. Until the Battle of the Bulge.”

Despite the 72-year gap between his interview and the events of that surprise attack on Allied forces during World War II, the veteran spoke with a reverence that reflected his utmost respect for his time in the military.

 “I reported to training on Christmas Eve, 1944, in Texas. We were replacements in the 9th infantry division. We went over…and I was there when Germany surrendered.”

91-year-old Bruce DePree and his wife, Elaine, settled in Michigan after the war, where he worked for Bethany Christian Services for 30 years. They now live in a retirement community in Zeeland, not far from the Holland and Allendale city lines. Born and bred Michiganders, the couple celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary last year.

In speaking to them, it’s not difficult to find where Bruce’s true love lies—helping other people. DePree gave blood in 1948 to help his cousin through a serious operation. After having a bad reaction while donating, he stopped giving until 2009.

His daughter, who works for a local hospital, turned him onto Michigan Blood back in 2012. She told him how Michigan Blood’s supply stays in the state to help other Michiganders, instead of being sent across the country. He decided to try again, and had a great experience.

Now, the Army veteran gives about 2 or 3 times a year, and the 91-year-old recently reached his first gallon. “Everyone at Michigan Blood has a very good personality,” he said, looking across the room to his wife. She drives him to his appointments, which DePree said he makes fairly regularly, “They’re grateful, and surprised I’m still giving.”

And now, when asked, he’ll proudly display his Michigan Blood donor card – a recent “medal” for the WWII veteran.

“At my age, if I can give blood, I want to do it.”