The Charles Leuthard Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5039 in Morris is observing 75 years of serving area veterans, their families and residents of Morris and Stevens County, which corresponds to the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. A VFW Post in Morris, the Swanson-Runnie Post 2612, dissolved before World War II due to the Depression and the limited number of eligible members from World War I.
The present Morris Post was organized in 1945 after military personnel returned home from fighting in World War II. The first Post Commander was Charles Hockert. The Post was named for Charles Leuthard, a Navy man from Chokio who was the first person from the area to die in World War II in 1943. Only 31 members signed the original charter, but by May of 1946, 55 members were present.
The Women’s VFW Auxiliary was formed in 1947 to “take over some of the smaller tasks that are now a burden to the VFW.” The Auxiliary was restricted to females until recently, when men not eligible for the Post were allowed to join the Auxiliary. In 1950, the Post acquired its own home, but a 1955 fire damaged it. A new home was found, and by 1958, membership had grown to 242.
The Post is involved in a number of charitable endeavors, is part of the Honor Guard for funerals and parades, holds Memorial Day ceremonies, is a leader in the Veterans’ Memorial, and provides a yearly scholarship to the University of Minnesota Morris for a veteran or relative of a veteran. They have had 52 commanders in 75 years, most serving for one year terms. The longest serving commander is Ted Storck, who served from 2012 to 2019. Present Commander is Earl Cline. The Post sold its club in 1997 due to financial difficulties to Donny Wohlers and Brian Solvie, who turned it into Old Number One, where the group continues to meet.
Auxiliary membership is at 163 and Post membership stands at 108. Membership continues to decline as fewer members are eligible to join and others have passed on.