Haw River’s American Legion branch bid farewell to its last surviving founder as World War 2 veteran Richard “Dick” Stout was laid to rest today.
Stout, 93, passed away on February 23 at his home. The son of Glenn Henderson and Nettie Mae Perry Stout, he was born and raised in Haw River, with his deep roots to the town acting as a source of pride for the veteran.
Another achievement for Stout was his 73-year membership with American Legion Post 427 in his hometown, which he helped build a couple years after returning from the war in 1946. Joining the American Legion in April 1948, he helped the organization receive its charter on February 14, 1950.
Stout remained an active member throughout the decades, but became especially involved a few years ago after the Legion’s new commander, Chuck Johnson, and others learned that he was the last of the post’s founders.
“They honored him,” daughter Sheryl Stout told The Alamance News on Monday. “I was very grateful for it, and I think Dad was too. He knew he had a community, a base of support, and folks he could count on, and they followed through. They made him feel really special.”
Stout began to share his wartime experiences with the group and his daughter during the post’s meetings, giving Sheryl and the others insight into stories that had never been shared.
“For years, he played all this down,” his daughter said. “He never talked about it.”
“It helped me to get to know him better,” she added. “I began to learn about what he’d been through, and what it took to do it, and it made me admire him even more.”
Stout’s military service began at 16, when the teenager fudged his age to get the opportunity to serve. In 1944, he rode the train out west and from there traveled to a small island in the South Pacific north of New Guinea. Members of the Japanese military occupied the other end of the island and, from his camp, the young man could hear the detonations of bombs.
After returning to the United States in 1946, Stout became a salesman for Rental Towel and Uniform and stayed with the company until retirement. In his free time, apart from the American Legion, he enjoyed playing golf, a hobby he picked up from son Vic Stout. Over the years, the veteran became such a regular at the Challenge Golf Club that he earned the moniker “the mayor.”
Still, one of his greatest joys in the last decade of his life was his girlfriend, Shirley Waggoner, who lives in a long-term facility.
“She was very important to him,” Sheryl said. “They’ve spent a lot of years together and had a lot in common.”
Apart from Waggoner and his two children, Stout is survived by his grandchildren, Heather and Shannon Stout. In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his brother, Noel Paige Stout, and a nephew, Tyler Paige Stout.
Stout also leaves behind about 60 fellow members at his American Legion post, who will carry on the organization’s work in the community. After being put on hold due to the pandemic, the group’s commander said that the post’s mainstays, its monthly hotdog sales and breakfast, will resume in the coming months, with the sales expected to start up again on April 3 as to-go only. The group’s members will also carry on their tradition of placing American flags at the graves of veterans on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
A graveside service with military honors was scheduled to be held for Stout Thursday (March 4) at 1:00 p.m. at Alamance Memorial Park, with Dr. Judy Butler officiating.