The first time Dave Court encountered The Salvation Army, he was stationed in Korea, just north of the 38th Parallel. The year was 1952, and his unit had been delivered to the vicinity of their mission, then left to march the rest of the way in. For a day and a night, their only respite was found at a Salvation Army Canteen Truck.
Dave’s second encounter with the Salvation Army would be more permanent.
After his tour of Korea was cut short by a hand grenade, Dave was shuttled between hospitals before being returned to the United States and assigned to an ordinance station in Indianapolis. Dave married Jewel, they had a few kids, and then decided to take advantage of the G.I. Bill. Dave Court graduated from Ball State in two-and-a-half years with a degree in elementary education, and then the young family moved to South Bend.
“I’ve been here ever since,” he says.
He was the assistant principal at the old Studebaker School when a friend invited him to join him at a Salvation Army board meeting.
“So I came with him a few times, and I’m still here,” he laughs.
Dave was recently presented an award for more than forty years of service on The Salvation Army board. He was part of the decision that combined the South Bend and Mishawaka offices. He drove his pick-up truck around the city every Christmas to help deliver gifts and goods to families in need of a hand up. He served a few stints as chairman.
Among Dave’s most notable accomplishments, about fifteen years ago he was part of the group that put together a grant proposal to deliver to the desk of Joan Kroc.
“When Mrs. Kroc announced that money was available, we started to get interested,” he remembers. “It took us five years to get the grant written and approved and we targeted the old Watson Park as the place to put it. The best thing the city ever did was to clean that up and turn it over to The Salvation Army. It’s a good location.”
He never met Joan Kroc himself but remembers that a few of her children have visited the South Bend Kroc Center on a few occasions. At 92-years-old, Dave even makes the time to take advantage of the Kroc’s amenities for himself.
“I usually come twice a week. I walk the pool for half-an-hour to an hour and spend fifteen minutes in the hot tub,” he says. “I do it for my legs. I’ve done it for several years, as long as it’s been open.”
During his time with The Salvation Army, Dave has worked with six different commanders and says that it’s always been a good experience.
“I just started and stayed with it,” he says. “It’s been a labor of love.”
Dave Court’s impact in The Salvation Army is difficult to quantify and his fingerprints are all over the Kroc Center. His signature adorns the steel beam that runs across the Kroc Chapel. His wife’s old piano fills one of the music rooms. The award he won for his service is well-earned.
Dave is excited for everything that’s going to happen next at The Salvation Army Kroc Center.
“I hope we continue to do what we’re doing now, but even better. I think we’re serving people pretty well. It’s good to see some younger people. I think it will be successful for years to come.”
Love Beyond Christmas
Your sustaining gift to The Salvation Army Kroc Center supports St. Joseph County families this season and beyond. So you can put a present under someone’s tree today and a roof over someone’s head tomorrow.