Retiree building wheelchair ramps gets national attention

EUDORA, Kan. - A Douglas County man is receiving national attention for building wheelchair ramps for his neighbors in need.  People Magazine recently published an article on Eugene “Westie” Westerhouse.

While most people look forward to taking it easy in retirement, the 87-year-old stays busy around his home in Eudora, Kan.

"I went out yesterday and cut the wood.   I didn't have anything else to do so, I fired up the chain saw,” Westerhouse said.
He retired in 1993 after 31 years as a postal worker.   Instead of mailing it in, he's made it his priority to build wheelchair ramps for neighbors.

"You help everybody you can,” Westerhouse said. “I guess that some of that comes from the mail carrier in me."

He delivered his first wheelchair ramp in 1978 to a retired farmer who needed it to get out of his house.  The farmer liked the ramp so much he asked Westerhouse to make one for his barn.

"He wanted that John Deere tractor a lot worse than he wanted that car to go to the doctor,” Westerhouse said.

Since then, Westerhouse has built hundreds of ramps with church volunteers who just try to keep up.

"He gets up every morning and does about 50 or 60 pushups and I believe that.  He's on every job.  He's on every fabrication.  We'll work all day long and the man just has unbelievable stamina,” Bill VanDeBerghe with Eudora United Methodist Church said.

Westerhouse and the volunteers rely on donations for the materials.  Those they help usually offer to pay, but Westerhouse prefers people pay it forward or just give him treats.

"That kind of thank you I like!  Bake me a cookie,” Westerhouse said while laughing.

Westerhouse hopes others join his cause, which he plans to keep doing as long as he can.

"I'm just trying to do a little good while I'm still around,” he said.

Neither rain nor snow nor anything else has ever stopped this retired postal worker from helping his neighbors in need.

Print this article Back to Top