Project Emeritus head retires – for the third time
By Chris Calkins, 45th SW Public Affairs
/ Published March 19, 2009
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- After graduating from high school in 1955, the North Carolina teen-ager said he was faced with three career options, and none of them appealed to him.
And the fourth, an assignment to the first-ever class of the brand-new Air Force Academy that year was out of reach "because I didn't have the grades in the math and sciences."
"I probably could've gone into tobacco, textiles and tables, and I said 'no' to all of them," said Harold "Jerry" McAnulty, who "retired" for the third time last week in a ceremony held at the Tides, this time as outgoing director, Project Emeritus, the volunteer organization he has been with since 1996, the last three as the head man.
So he did the next best thing. He enlisted in the Air Force, and ended up retiring as a Chief after 28 and one-half years of active duty service, where he "retired" for the first time as the Commandant, Program Manager's Course, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.
"I knew I was going to stay in for a long time real early in my career," he said. "The Air Force and I always got along real well."
After leaving active duty, he held government service positions at Tinker, Andrews and Wright-Patterson Air Force Bases, where he eventually "retired" for the second time in 1996.
In June, 1996, Jerry and his wife, Shel, (they will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in June) decided to move to the Space Coast. He joined forces with Project Emeritus that very month.
But he wasn't happy having only one volunteer organization to help. For six years, Jerry served as the building manager for the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen, where they routinely fed more than 150 people daily.
"And we always did it in compassionate ways, trying to restore their personal respect and dignity," he said.
In his "spare time," Jerry also supported Meals on Wheels, drove those in need to supermarkets and medical appointments, assisted Health Outreach Prevention and Education nurses and was appointed as a member of the Golf Advisory Committee.
He doesn't especially think this "third" retirement is anything special. And he's not looking for any pats-on-the-back for doing what he only thinks is "the right thing to do."
"It's simple," he said, "the Air Force has been very good to me and my family. Doing this volunteer work is just an opportunity to give something back to the community we all love.
"It gives me a warm-and-fuzzy feeling inside to help those less fortunate. That's really why I do it, and it's a good enough reason for me.
Col. Stephen Butler, vice commander, 45th Space Wing, said its people like Jerry who make truly invaluable contributions to the quality of life in this wing and all throughout Patrick and the Cape.
"I know Jerry; he would be the first one to tell you there are hundreds and hundreds of volunteers who are just like him. Every day, there are people like him who are out there giving back to this community in ways we can't even count," said Colonel Butler.
"They make things happen for all of us and they ask nothing in return. When you talk about selfless heroes, you are talking about all our volunteers," he said.