Joe Coury honored with Honor Flight Northeast Indiana in September

Joe Coury will be a passenger on the September Honor Flight Northeast Indiana. Coury is a resident at the Maria Center at Donaldson.
Jamie Stoner
Staff Writer

Joe Coury will be honored in September as a passenger on Honor Flight Northeast Indiana. Coury will be accompanied by his son-in-law Ron Gifford for his trip to the Nation’s capital and tour memorials honoring men and women who served.

Coury served in the United States Navy for 14 years. He joined in 1942 and served through 1956. His service included active and reserve duty including service during World War II.

Though Coury expressed sincere gratitude for the opportunity to take this journey, his smile beamed with joy and pride when he shared about his personal memories from the Navy and his family.

Coury was brought up from humble beginnings. “My father came from Lebanon when he was 15 years old.” Though Coury’s father was removed from school in 4th grade Coury credits him with raising successful children. “My brothers were surgeons and my sister was a medical technician. I am the only one who didn’t enter the medical field but I was successful in business.”

Coury was a sophomore in college attending Washington & Jefferson College (W&J College) in Pennsylvania when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He reminisced, “We all wanted to quit school and fight.” President Roosevelt expressed publicly that educated men would be needed to serve in higher positions within the military. Coury shared, “They wanted career military men at that time.” Coury was sent to Harvard Business School for one year as part of his recruitment process into the Navy.

Coury laughed detailing some of his experiences in the Navy. “One of my men secured a clothing iron in a vice upside down and was frying bacon and eggs.” he shared laughing so hard his cheeks grew pink.

Coury was married to Dorothy (Winters) for 71 years before she went to heaven. He smiled from ear to ear, “She was only 5 foot tall.” as he pointed to her picture behind him on his wall.

Coury shared, “We made bracelets out of stainless steal for our wives during the small hours of the night.” Coury shared, “I bought a small jewelry file and made one for her that said ‘Dotty’ and one that said ‘I love you’.”

Coury shared that not all of the men were educated. He would scribe love letters to their girls at home for them at night as they shared with him what they wanted to say. Coury worked since he was five years old. “I walked from my parents produce shop a few blocks to purchase papers. I bought them for a penny and a half a piece and sold them for three cents or more. You didn’t want to be stuck with two or three papers left in your hands at the end of the day, but that rarely happened. At that time business men relied on the paper to monitor the stock market.”

Coury and his wife had three daughters who all completed a college education. One became a nurse, another an English teacher and another a 4th grade elementary school teacher. Coury shared, “I taught my kids to hit the books. My father taught me to hit the books. Though he was not an educated man himself he wanted for us to succeed. He would say, ‘They can take your clothes but they cannot take your education’.”

Coury travelled all over the country and the world as part of his career in the Navy, for his positions in business and for pleasure. “When I got out of the Navy I promised myself I would never set foot on another ship. My wife and I took over 10 cruises.” He laughed.

Coury traveled to Europe, South America, Antarctica, Ireland, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Alaska, and Hawaii. He shared his favorite cruise was a tour of the Scandinavian capitals. “We got to see East Berlin. There was one mile left of the wall when we travelled there. We went to Russia and Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Holland.”

Coury and his wife eventually settled down in Pretty Lake in Plymouth in 1974. He still owns the house he shared with Dorothy. From their three daughters the couple have 19 great grandchildren.

The crucifix that was on his wife’s casket hangs on a nail on Coury’s door visible to all as they come and go. A dainty cross created from Palm Sunday palms embellishes the corner of the frame of her photograph.

Coury will be 96 in November. He shared with a grateful smile, “Life has been good to me. I have had a lot of fun.”