Local Legislators, Business Help Widow of Veteran Secure Home Ramp

CENTERVILLE – The widow of a World War II veteran now has a wheelchair ramp at her Centerville home after an effort from local legislators and a local business.

Shepley Wood Products completed the installation of the ramp Wednesday at the Prince Hinckley Road home of 94-year-old Donna Nunes.

The ramp was going to be installed in the spring after the project received authorization from the Department of Veterans Affairs. But that authorization was rescinded two days after Donna’s husband of 72 years, Norman, died in April.

Norman, who grew up in Harwich, served in the Air Force in World War II as a tail gunner on a B24 bomber. The B24 was hit on a night mission and Norman had to bail out before landing behind enemy lines in China and spent a month working his way out through the underground.

Norman was discharged as a Staff Sergeant and had been awarded two Purple Hearts, and Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The Nunes asked for a ramp from the VA in January as both Norman and Donna were in wheelchairs.

The construction of the ramp was approved and a crew came to the home to take measurements and create a blueprint, which was also approved.

Norman’s daughter Susan said the family received a call from EZ-ACCESS two days after her father died to say they were coming to build the ramp.

“I said, ‘my father passed but boy we sure need it for my mom,’” Susan said.

The company told her that the VA would no longer cover the cost of the installation.

Susan talked to several representatives from the VA and could not get authorization.

She then contacted a friend, State Representative Tim Whelan (R-Brewster).

Whelan worked with State Representatives Will Crocker (R-Centerville) and Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) to confirm with Veterans Services that the VA were not authorizing the ramp.

The legislators then discussed the issue with Tony Shepley, the owner and president of Shepley Wood Products, during an event at the State House and he offered to donate the materials and the labor.

“I can relate to the problems of access because someday we are all going to face these so it’s nice to band together and help someone out,” Shepley said. “I think [Norman] paid it forward. I think the least we could do was respond.”

Shepley said his business gets a lot of requests like this and they try to help as many people as they can.

Susan thanked Whelan, Crocker and Peake, along with the crew from Shepley, who visited the home after the ramp was completed.

“To have someone to be willing to not only donate the materials, but then to have his men come out here and to work free of charge – you talk about a golden heart,” she said. “That is just incredible.”

Crocker also gives the credit to Shepley Wood Products.

“He saw the need here. He saw that there was something that needed to be done that wasn’t going to get done,” Crocker said.

Crocker said the delegation on the Cape, democrats and republicans, works together to complete the things that need to be done.

“And if it comes down to getting a ramp for the widow of a World War II veteran to make her life easier than let’s get it done,” Crocker said.

The first trip the family is going to take with Donna is to visit her father at the cemetery.

“We are going to go down to where he is because it is because of him. He is still taking care of her,” Susan said. “We are just going to let him know what we got because of him. That’s our first stop.”

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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