Home renovation completed for Hampton widow

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

A group of military veterans are marching forward, albeit with a touch of sadness, to mark the completion of a home-improvement project in memory of one of their own.

Volunteers joined forces recently with American Legion Post No. 516 to renovate the home of Hampton military veteran, the late Atlas King (at left) and his wife Joanne. Those who participated in the endeavor included (2nd from left) Henry County Tax Commissioner David Curry and Post Commander Alton Head. Special Photo

The Willie B. Hatcher American Legion Post No. 516 in McDonough is nearing the end of renovation project for the home of U.S. Army veteran Atlas King of Hampton. Volunteers were due to wrap up painting this week at the King house, at 69 McDonough St., and an inspection of the house is set for Wednesday. A ribbon-cutting is scheduled for September 22 at 11 a.m., to celebrate the renovation.

The American Legion began raising funds for the renovation last spring, to repair a leaking roof, heating and air units and other elements of the King home.

Unfortunately, King passed away last month at age 81, before the project could be finished.

Still, that didn’t stop the American Legion from finishing the renovation, said Hampton City Council member and retired veteran, Elton Brown, who assisted with the project.

“Our mission kind of shifted since Mr. King passed,” said Brown. “We’re still focused on getting the house completed and getting his wife home so she can start her grieving process.”

Veterans advocate Eddie Felton works closely with Post No. 516 and has been instrumental in getting the word out about the King renovation. Felton, also a military veteran, said the American Legion focused its efforts on providing King’s widow, Joanne, with a more livable home and that she was a “part of the decision-making process” for the endeavor.

“When an individual joins the military, and he’s married, the wife is considered part of the military, too,” said Felton. “We needed to go forward and finish this project so she can benefit from the fruits of his labor. There was no way we were going to walk away.”

Felton added that the American Legion had to endure its share of red tape with the city during the renovation. He said Brown was helpful in overcoming those hurdles in order to complete the project.

“We have continuously had to stop what we were doing, because the city of Hampton has strict guidelines,” said Felton. “That put us back from completing the house by at least 2-3 weeks. Without Mr. Brown, we would have been dead in the water. He ran a lot of interference with the city to get things done for us.”

Brown encouraged local residents to come to the ribbon-cutting to celebrate the completion of the renovation.

“We’d like the community to come out and see what the American Legion and our sponsors have done to help this family that was in dire straits,” said Brown. “And, I’d like to get the community to be more aware of their surroundings so that no one else in the community will get to this kind of condition with no one to help or intervene.”