Westport shop owners help pay for WWII veteran's funeral

Posted at 9:30 PM, Aug 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 23:34:12-04

We all help our neighbors whenever necessary, but Dave and Celine Collins went above and beyond. Now their kind deed isn’t going unnoticed.

Dave and Celine Collins own Monkey Wrench Clothing in Westport. And if you go to the store’s Facebook page you’ll find post after post of customers, fans and friends thanking them for their role in helping to ensure decorated World War II veteran Frank “Bobo” Nickerson received the burial he deserved.

Speaking with 41 Action News from his store on Friday, Dave Collins explained he first met Nickerson when he put up a flag after the 9/11 attacks outside his home in Kansas City’s Historic Northeast.

Nickerson stopped by to talk with him and that’s when Nickerson opened up about his past in the military – serving from 1941-1945 as a member of the Army.

Northeast News did a feature story on Nickerson – describing him as an “undiscovered legend.” In June 2015, Nickerson told the paper, “When I came back from the war I carried a pistol and didn’t trust anyone. I went shopping downtown. This truck went ‘pow pow’ and I turned around like I had my weapon and I woke up. People were looking at me, I was embarrassed.”

Frank and Marilyn Nickerson met after the war and married on May 18, 1951. Their marriage lasted for 65 years until Frank Nickerson passed away on August 3 of this year.

Frank "Bobo" Nickerson and his wife Marilyn. Photo courtesy Marilyn Nickerson

Dave and Celine Collins became close friends with the Nickersons. They’d take them to their doctors’ visits, to the grocery store and to run errands. They also found out why Frank was nicknamed “Bobo.”

“The reason he was known as ‘Bobo’ was because after World War II he eventually became a baseball clown,” Collins explained. “He toured with an exhibition group called ‘House of David’ and in their day they were to baseball what the Harlem Globetrotters are to basketball these days.”

But it’s Frank Nickerson’s stories about the war Dave Collins said he will always remember.

“I sat for hours listening to his stories about World War II. Those kinds of memories you just don’t get…first-hand memories like this are just priceless,” Collins said.

A few days after his death, Dave and Celine Collins realized the couple did not have insurance or money set aside to pay for Frank Nickerson’s funeral. So they posted his story on the store’s Facebook page. They also created a GoFundMe page to raise money to pay for the burial, which raised $1,028.

The couple then contacted the Missouri Veterans Commission, which operates four veterans’ cemeteries – including one in Higginsville, Missouri. Organizers there said they would provide a burial site both for Frank and his wife when she passes so they could be buried together at no charge.

Dave and Celine Collins then contacted the Patriot Guard Riders, and when the day came to bury Frank Nickerson, the group accompanied the hearse all the way from DW Newcomers Chapel in Raytown to Higginsville, telling Dave Collins they were honored to do so.

Frank Nickerson was buried with full military honors on August 11. The flag from his coffin was handed to his wife Marilyn, and she sat right next to Dave and Celine. An unselfish, moving tribute to an American hero now laid to rest thanks to the kindness of his neighbors.

According to the Veteran’s Administration, World War II veterans are dying at a rate of approximately 492 a day, which means there are only about 855,000 veterans still alive of the 16 million who served in that war.



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