Bill Grahlman is a low-key type of guy — not too visible, but always there when someone needs a hand.
So it’s really quite fitting that the City of Hamilton recently presented Grahlman with the Behind the Scenes Award at the 2014 Senior of the Year gala.
“I was very humbled and surprised,” Grahlman said of the honour. “But it was the right award, behind the scenes, because I don’t like to be out in the open.”
Grahlman has been a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association 447 Wing in Mount Hope for 25 years and is currently serving as president. He joined the air force at the age of 20 and served his country as an instrument technician.
Grahlman is at the 447 Wing almost daily, doing everything from maintenance to errands and picking up supplies.
He said he has a lot of help keeping things running smoothly, with a great 447 Wing executive and directors, and his “right hand,” office administrator and wife Margaret.
“It’s a good place,” said Grahlman. “There are a lot of laughs, some artifacts and pictures, a lot of memories and history, and we still have a few veterans around who love to tell stories.”
The 447 Wing is licensed, has a state-of-the-art kitchen that serves home-cooked meals and wings daily from 5-7 p.m., live entertainment, social get-togethers, pool tables, dart boards and games tables. The membership is made up of veterans from Canadian and Allied forces, and non-veterans who share a love of Canada and respect for the country’s military tradition.
“Once you’re in the military, it goes into your heart,” said Grahlman. “You can go anywhere in Canada and look up a friend.
“…It’s important to keep the air force tradition, plus we have a commitment to the air cadets to help them out any time, any place and anywhere.”
Grahlman has also supported the Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation for almost 15 years. Among other duties, he serves as a courtesy bus driver for underprivileged children who are heading off on a once-in-a-lifetime camping experience.
“The kids get on the bus very shy, but after 10 days at camp, they just open right up,” he said. “We hear from a lot of parents, ‘What did you do with my kid? This is not my kid.’”
The Grahlmans are active in their church, Marshall Memorial, and help out with the Coffee and Conversation group.
The 76-year-old retired in 1981 and said it’s important for seniors to keep their minds and bodies active, and their spiritual needs fulfilled.
“I could sit and do nothing. Some people can sit in front of the TV or computer, but not me. I have to be doing something. That’s what keeps you young and mobile, and it is rewarding. You feel it. It’s a wholesome feeling,” he said.
For more information on the R.C.A.F.A. 447 wing in Hamilton, click here, or call 289-280-0157 or 905-648-1568
This is the third in a series of stories on the local recipients of the City of Hamilton’s 2014 Senior of the Year Awards.