Cove woman remembers the fallen
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Not every veteran laid to rest at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen has a group of friends and family that gather to remember them. However, veterans will still receive a funeral with military honors, no matter how many—or how few—attend.
Trudy Bolton, a Copperas Cove woman and one of the founders of Operation Stand Down Central Texas, has determined that she will attend the funeral for every unaccompanied veteran. When she attends, she does not go empty-handed.
On Wednesday morning, she picked up a floral arrangement from A&L Florist in Copperas Cove on her way to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
Last fall, A&L Florist had donated the centerpieces for annual banquet of the Area Veterans Advisory Committee – Central Texas, and that’s when Bolton had the idea to begin taking flowers to unaccompanied funerals.
At first, Bolton had asked shop owner Farida Karpoff, if she could receive the flower arrangements at a discount.
“But then I talked with my husband—who’s a veteran—and he said, no, let’s donate them,” said Karpoff. “We’re happy to do it. We try to do whatever we can.”
Initially, Karpoff provided Bolton with baskets in a red, white, and blue theme. Recently, she’s changed the baskets to an arrangement resembling a smaller casket topper arrangement.
Wednesday’s arrangement consisted of red carnations, white mums and lilies, and blue delphinium accented with ferns, baby’s breath, and an American flag.
At 1000 hours, or 10 a.m., she arrived at the cemetery for what was originally scheduled as an “unaccompanied” funeral for Arthur McClanahan, an Air Force veteran who served from January 1981 to September 1983. Arrangements were taken care of the King-Tears Funeral Home in Austin. However, during the process of making arrangements, a sister of McClanahan was located. Betty Clark-Wine was present at Wednesday morning’s ceremony, as was Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
Bolton will continue to provide her presence at future unaccompanied burials.
“I truly believe (veterans) gave to this country, so they should not be laid to rest without someone there,” Bolton said. She was even given a flag at one veteran’s funeral, which she donated back to fly at the cemetery.
Bolton’s husband, CW4 Robert Bolton, served 28 years in the military. Her son, LTC (Ret.) James R. Bolton, served 21 years, and daughter Joann, a former 2nd Lt./CW2, served seven years. Her son-in-law, LTC Christopher Courtland is still serving with more than 30 years or active duty.
According to Ret. CSM Douglas Gault, the chief onsite representative of the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, there have been 11 unaccompanied veteran funerals at the CTSVC since January 2017. There were 13 in 2016, and 16 and 15 in 2015 and 2014, respectively.