My dad graduated from high school in 1949. Shortly thereafter, he enlisted in the Army. After he completed basic training he was shipped to Korea at the onset of the Korean War. He spent many, many days on the front lines during the most active and brutal fighting of the war. The American soldiers and their allies were ill-equipped. It was wintertime and they didn't have proper winter clothing or supplies. He lived for days and days in a cold, snowy foxhole with his fellow comrades. During his service he received three Bronze Star Medals. The Bronze Star is an individual military award of the US Armed Forces that is awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone. My dad was eventually wounded by shrapnel and was declared a disabled veteran. Dad took his service to his country very seriously. He remained a true patriot all of his life. Over the years we heard tidbits about his time in Korea. He talked sadly about the children who were orphaned. While in Korea, Dad saw more than he could tell and he understood more than he saw. He took a lot of pictures while he was in Korea. He defended and protected his family as fiercely as he did his fellow servicemen while serving in Korea. I salute you Dad for your service and bravery.
This article appeared in our local newspaper today--a wonderful tribute to my Dad.
Last living James Dean pallbearer dies at 81
Posted: Sunday, February 24, 2013 4:00 am
By Cathy Shouse-- Marion Chronicle-Tribune
The death of Fairmount resident Robert Pulley last Sunday was not only a loss for the community but the world at large, according to local officials.
As the last living pallbearer for James Dean’s funeral, Pulley, 81, had been one of the people who helped to keep Dean’s memory alive over the decades.
Pulley and Dean both graduated in the 1949 class of Fairmount High School. After Dean’s death in 1955, Pulley found himself sharing stories of Dean’s life with fans and media members.
Gale Hikade, president of the Fairmount Historical Museum, said Pulley had a key role in the museum’s early development and in the growth of the James Dean Festival.
“There was a time when there weren’t any volunteers and someone had to take it upon themselves to do everything it took to have a museum — to be there to open, to stock the gift shop and countless other duties,” Hickade said. “Bob was that person for a number of years. He was a great ambassador for Fairmount and James Dean. I enjoyed him. He was a delight to talk to and a wealth of information not just about James Dean but about Fairmount.”
In 1999, Pulley had lung cancer surgery, and other illnesses stopped his participation in recent years. However, legions of people remember the man who was often the first person to greet a James Dean fan on his or her visit to Fairmount.
“The James Dean Remembered Fan Club has lost a cherished friend and champion,” club president Pamela Crawford of Arkansas wrote on Facebook. “Bob was always so giving, so loving and so welcoming to Jim Dean’s fans. He is irreplaceable.” She said he reached fans around the “globe.”
Pulley’s widow, Shirley Pulley, said he was committed to clarifying who James Dean was, especially to the media. He made guest appearances on “20/20,” “Hardcopy,” “Joan Rivers” and “Geraldo Rivera,” and was interviewed by a reporter from Fox news.
“He really defended Jimmie from a lot of things that weren’t true,” she said.
In an October 1990 article in People magazine, Pulley admitted he couldn’t figure out why Dean was so popular.
“I don’t understand it,” he told the magazine. “Jimmy was just a normal boy.”
One-on-one, Pulley simply enjoyed sharing memories of Dean with fans, who never seemed to tire of hearing stories. They would come to the museum and end up at their former home, which was located near Madison-Grant High School. Once some visitors who got their car stuck in Park Cemetery at the James Dean grave were helped by Pulley, and then invited home.
“We had people from Germany, England, South Carolina and other places come visit. Many of them ended up staying with us while here,” Shirley said. “For the 50th anniversary, Dario Mazzoli who starred in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ came with his wife and stayed with us.
“Bob always said that he did a lot for James Dean as far as keeping it going, but James Dean did a lot for him.”
One of Pulley’s daughter’s, Marion businesswoman Christy Berry, said she was constantly bringing home friends to the James Dean Festival while she attended Ball State University. And her father shared his stories with them as well.
“The ceiling of our dorm room was covered in James Dean posters,” Berry said, smiling. “I had forgotten how many of them came home with me until they started posting condolences on Facebook.”
Pulley was also known around town from his 35 years of service to the Citizen Telephone Company, which became Frontier Communications. He offered his electrical skills when needed.
David Loehr, owner of the James Dean Gallery in Fairmount said “When the James Dean Gallery was first getting ready to open in 1988, Bob was enthusiastic and offered to help with some of the electrical work and installed much of the track lighting that is still in use in the exhibit.
“Over the years Bob also appeared in several documentaries about James Dean and as a result was known and recognized by Dean fans around the world,” Loehr said. “When fans would visit Fairmount he would never turn away someone who wanted to meet him and talk about his old high school pal Jim Dean.
“When the bust of James Dean was dedicated at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, Bob flew out and we attended the event together along with several of Dean’s co-stars from the films and other celebrities along with dozens of James Dean Fans who treated Bob like he was a celebrity himself.”
Like Dean, he had eclectic tastes, and picking up arrowheads led to an interest in collecting items from Papua New Guinea.
Pulley sometimes shared memories during the annual memorial service for Dean at Back Creek Friends in Fairmount. People heard about hockey games on the frozen pond of the Winslow farm, and how they would try to trip each other with their sticks. He would wear his senior cords, a tradition Dean had also participated in. Movies were 5 or 10 cents, and you needed a car to get anywhere outside of Fairmount.
Another classmate of Pulley’s, Fairmount resident Jim Grindle, said Pulley will be missed. The men served as judges together at the James Dean Look-Alike Contest at the festival. Determining the winner was always a challenge.
“There’s not many people that look like Jimmie,” Grindle said. “Every one in awhile you’ll catch the eyes or a gesture. They’ve all studied his movies. We’re looking for (how he looked) in his high school days.”
Pulley had a lifelong interest in local schools, said granddaughter Mallory Thompson, a teacher at Madison-Grant Junior High School.
“He was very, very generous,” Thompson said. “He would worry about my students. He was constantly asking me about families and offering his help when needed.”
"What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night.
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset" Robert Pulley, age 81, of Fairmount, IN, died Sunday, February 17, 2013.
He was the son of the late Ralph Pulley and the late Maedoris (Zeek) Pulley. He was born in Marion, Indiana on August 30, 1931. He graduated from Fairmount High School in 1949 and went on to serve in the Army from 1950-53 during the Korean Conflict. He was a disabled Veteran receiving 3 Bronze Stars. He married Shirley Hoffar on February 20, 1960. Shirley survives in Fairmount. Bob was a repairman for Citizen's Telephone/Frontier Communications for 35 years, retiring in 1987. He was a member and past president of the Fairmount Historical Museum, making guest appearances on 20/20, Hardcopy, Joan Rivers and Geraldo Rivera providing information and sharing about his friend and classmate James Dean. He served as pallbearer for James Dean. He was a member of the Fairmount United Methodist Church, the Fairmount VFW Post serving as a past Commander and a 25 year member of the Fairmount Volunteer Fire Department, and the founder of the Mississinewa Boat and Ski Club. As a member of the Archaeological Society, he enjoyed collecting arrow heads, and Indian artifacts and camping. He loved decorating his home with large light displays for Christmas and having a big garden.
He is also survived by: Three Daughters: Christy(Bob) Berry, Marion, IN Leasa (Jeff) Wages, Dacula, GA Tresa (Joel) Bozell, Summitville, IN
One Son: Robert Pulley, Kokomo, IN
Two Sisters: Margaret Wilhoite, West Lafayette, IN Mary Ann Usher, Sarasota, FL
3 Grandchildren; Mallory (Aaron)Thompson, Alexandria, IN Chad Wages, Lawrenceville, GA Lindsay (James) Savage, Lawrenceville, GA
1 Great-Grandchild; Olivia Thompson Mother-in-law; Leila Hoffar, Marion, IN
He was preceded in death by 3 brothers Ralph James Pulley Jr., Roger Pulley, Tom Pulley, and sister, Martha Jane Rogers.
Arrangements are being handled by Armes-Hunt Funeral Home, 415 S. Main St., Fairmount, IN where the family will receive friends from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Wednesday, February 20, 2013. Funeral service will be at Armes-Hunt Funeral Home at 2:00 PM, Thursday, February 21, 2013 with Rev. Edna Larimore officiating. Interment will be at Park Cemetery, Fairmount, IN
Memorial contributions may be made to the Salvation Army or Cancer Services of Grant County in care of the funeral home.
On this Valentine's Day, my Dad lays in a hospital bed in a rehabilitation center, where he does not belong. My Mother is by his side. Dad had been in a hospital for the past 8 days. He is laboring to breathe as a result of advanced emphysema. He is also aspirating fluids into his lungs. (He also struggles because he had lung cancer surgery in 1999 that resulted in the removal of a lobe of one of his lungs.) The rehab staff has been rude and inattentive. They say he's too sick to be there but the hospital people said they had done all they could do and he needed to go to rehab. A social worker told my Mother this afternoon, "I guess this is not a good fit for your husband", as though he were choosing a country club?! So, it's okay to throw the patient to the curb because he's too sick for your facility???
These past days have been the saddest of my life. My Dad is usually a fiery character, opinionated and grumpy (and also, a good and giving Dad and hardworking man) . But now he is passive, barely able to speak or stay awake. I never thought I'd say this, but I've missed his grumpiness. I want my Dad back. My poor Mother is sad and quiet and my heart breaks for her. On February 20th, they will be married for 53 years. I think sometimes they wonder how they ever put up with each other, but their love has endured, and now they are planning a great escape from the rehab place tonight. Dad just wants to go home and Mother wants to take him home. If she is going to be the one giving him the care he needs at the rehab place, then why not do it at home? (that's what she said) They aren't really going to escape but there was some discussion between them about doing it. When I first heard about the plan I was aghast, but then I realized Mother is right.
Mother will be meeting with someone later today to arrange for hospice care.