The Duncan Banner

March 22, 2013

Loveless story tugs at community’s heart

Megan Bristow
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — When Amy Curtis heard of Albert Loveless’s pleas for an extension of abatement, she decided to take action on his behalf. Mostly because it reminded her of similar struggles her dad is having.

Loveless has been dealing with Duncan City Council who has ordered him to fix up his properties on Beech Avenue, or suffer an abatement order. Curtis read about Loveless’ struggles in The Banner, after coverage of a council meeting pertaining to the issue.

“We are going through a lot with my dad’s health,” Curtis said. “It is just constantly on my mind how there are things that he can’t do for himself anymore. That was on my mind when I read the article about that man losing his properties and he only made $900 a month. I thought ‘Perhaps he, like Dad, is in a position where he cannot help himself.’ I hated for the man to possibly lose the only thing he owned if there was not anything he could do about it.”

The story of Loveless prompted Curtis to share his story in a post Thursday, March 14, on the Duncan Area Sound Off page on Facebook but no one predicted the response. Since then, there has been over 100 comments with a handful of people committing to help Loveless make repairs to his properties at 517 and 519 W. Beech Ave.

“Honestly, I got goosebumps because I did not think people were like that anymore,” Michelle Smith, a friend of Loveless, said. “I think it is amazing that they are trying to pull together like that.”

Smith knew Loveless “Shorty” from the days when she worked at American Auction six or seven years ago and had the honor of telling him what the community wanted to do for him.

“He was in shock,” Smith said. “He got tears in his eyes.  He just could not believe that people were trying to help him like that.”

“It is a good deed,” Loveless said. “It is a fine time for somebody to have a conscience that cares about the elderly people in this town. Somebody has a heart. I do not care how far up the corporate ladder you go, it does not mean anything if you do not stop to help along the way.”

Beth Kurtz, daughter of Duncan’s former mayor Al Hinshaw, is also planning to come down from Oklahoma City on workdays to help repair the houses.

“I was always raised by my parents and grandparents to give back to my community,” she said.  

“All of Stephens County, that is my home,” she said. “In Oklahoma City it is hard to connect. If I can help my home area or somebody in my home area, that is important to me personally.”

For others, Loveless’s military service prompted them to want to help.

Loveless served four years in the Air Force as a firefighter and as a member of the rescue squad. Although he said he never made it to combat, he did serve in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Jennifer Smith, who was one of the first to offer to help, was touched by the man’s story because he was a veteran. Her husband is also a disabled veteran so the story hit her on a personal level.

“There is just not enough help out there for these guys,” she said.

Jennifer Smith has committed to give her time and said she has volunteered to call the VFW to see if they would help as well. She also said she plans to call the City of Duncan to see what needed to be done and what steps needed to be completed to get the houses in acceptable conditions.

“We are trying to get in contact with the city to see what needs to be done and if any permits are needed,” she said.

Kerry Rice, a local truck driver who spends six days of the week on the road, also dedicated his time to helping a neighbor in need.

“I have never met him, never talked to him,” he said. “I do know that he is a disabled veteran. I have said thank you to some veterans but in my history, that is all I have done. This is a way for me to go a little bit further than saying thank you.:

Rice also said he believes with the decisions made by the federal government and by other people throughout the world, neighbors are going to have to start helping each other.

“I feel like the way the world is, we are going to have to start taking care of our neighbors,” he said.

For Rice, his dedication to help Loveless also comes with personal reasons. Rice said without people who supported him, he would would have had a hard time making it through a bad year, which included a the loss of a job, a house fire and a serious injury.

“Because of people helping me, I have made the decision to help others,” he said. “It is time for me to give back.”

Meanwhile, the support on the Facebook page continues to grow as members of the community commit to help or ask for help on their own Facebook pages or with members of churches and other organization.

“It seems like everybody is bringing special abilities and skills to the table,” Kurtz said. “It truly is a group effort.”