CONWAY Herbert “Lucky” Page, 87, of Conway almost gave his life for his country, and now Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County and Home Depot are helping make his home more livable.
Page, a Marine veteran and a Purple Heart recipient, and his wife, Monnie, have lived on Lake Conway since 1979.
“Everything’s just got run down,” he said of their home.
He said the house has plumbing problems, including sinks that don’t drain and a roof that leaks, and they haven’t had electricity in the kitchen for about three months.
“We’re anxious for them to get the electric out here because we’re worried that with the bad wiring, we’ll have a fire,” Page said. He keeps several fire extinguishers around, just in case.
Shenel Sandidge, executive director of Habitat for Humanity for Faulkner County, said the project is part of the Habitat for Heroes program.
She received a $1,000 grant through the Home Depot Foundation to work with Team Depot in Conway for a program she’s calling A Hero’s Hand Up.
Her goal is for the project to be completed by Dec. 18, the couple’s 56th wedding anniversary.
The Pages have three sons in Conway who help their parents as much as they can, Herbert Page said, with chores from painting to mowing the lawn. The couple also have a daughter who lives in Missouri.
Page, who grew up in Little Rock, was 17, but said he was 18 so that he could join the Marines during World War II.
He fought in the South Pacific and was wounded on more than one occasion.
“You don’t turn yourself in when you get a small wound or something, but I was wounded two or three times,” he said.
One incident nearly killed him.
“There was an artillery shell that fell and knocked me out. I had wounds in my knees and my temples, and I was unconscious. They thought I was dead, and they pulled my dog tags and threw me in the ditch with the dead bodies,” he said.
Some of his Marine Corps buddies insisted that “nothing could have gotten that guy,” Page said.
“They started calling me Lucky because I had missed so many shots from snipers and everything. Then when that happened, they said, ‘They couldn’t do anything to Lucky.’ They went looking for me and heard me moaning and groaning. They drug me out and took me to the hospital ship. They told me all this when I came to on the ship,” he said.
“They call me Lucky, but it’s not really lucky. I’m a Christian, and the good Lord was with me and looking after me the whole time. I wouldn’t be here unless the good Lord had a purpose for me to be a witness,” Page said.
Page has had health problems in the past few years.
He has undergone triple-bypass heart surgery and seven unrelated surgeries at the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock.
His arm is in a sling because of a fall in the bathtub, and Sandidge said the project will include putting handicapped rails on the tub.
Volunteers have already made progress on the home. U.S. Bank employees donated $500 and also painted several rooms in the home, Sandidge said.
Haynes Ace Hardware of Conway donated 20 gallons of paint, she added.
Sigma Nu fraternity at the University of Central Arkansas and two students from Hendrix College cleaned and landscaped the Pages’ yard on a recent Saturday.
“They did great. Oh, boy, and we needed it, too,” Page said.
Sandidge said carpet will be replaced in a small area. The roof will be repaired, and the electrical and plumbing issues will be addressed.
“We have an electrician, Advantage Electric, and we have a plumber, Ace Plumbing, that are donating services,” she said.
Michael Gatewood, an assistant manager at Home Depot in Conway, said Team Depot will build a deck for the couple.
Page said, “I fell off the back porch one time and didn’t have my phone with me and laid there for two hours.”
Team Depot is made up of associates who volunteer “off the clock,” Gatewood said. “I told [Sandidge] I want to partner with her going forward. A project or two every month is kind of the plan,” he said.
Page praised the commitment Sandidge has made to him and his wife.
“She’s been totally, totally great. She goes out of her way to come by and make sure we’re OK,” he said.
Sandidge said the Pages are getting a bonus.
“We’re giving them donated furniture. An elderly person died, and they gave their whole estate to us,” she said.
The nonprofit organization was given a kitchen table, along with dining-room and living-room furniture.
“Once we get everything done, we’re going to bring it all in,” she said.
Sandidge said in this case, she didn’t go through the usual program for veterans, which provides a 10-year, no-interest loan for up to $15,000 worth of work.
“I didn’t want him to be worrying about figuring out how to pay,” she said. “I just want him to enjoy the last years of his life not worrying about anything.”
She said more donations are needed for the project and may be mailed to Habitat for Humanity of Faulkner County, P.O. Box 1447, Conway, AR 72033.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.