Happy 100th Birthday, Oakley!Jun 22, 2023 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Debra Dingman
Volunteers came to help clean up World War II Veteran Oakley Dexter's yard as an early birthday present, but they couldn't complete the backyard. Now, a group of young military people are asking the community to join them not only at Oakley's birthday party but also to help clean up his backyard.
DIXON, CA (MPG) - It will be a once-in-a-lifetime affair for World War II Veteran Oakley Dexter who just turned 100 and the whole town of Dixon is invited to his birthday party thanks to four active-duty military members who were impressed by the elderly gentlemen when they were part of a volunteer crew to clean up Dexter’s from yard last month. The birthday party will be held on Saturday, June 24, at 12 noon at Ye Olde Vet’s Hall, 231 North First St. across from the public library.
The plans started forming soon after Gabriel Perez and his wife Francis, both active-duty military, roped in their active-duty friends, Nicholas and Liz Jaeger to come help that day in May at Oakley’s house in Dixon. Gerald Gordon of The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) arranged a community service project to honor the WWII Army Corps veteran and along with fellow Veterans, Soldiers, Airmen, members of the community, a church, Kiwanis, and a Boy Scout troop, the volunteers gathered to clean up Oakley’s front yard.
“While our efforts allowed one to now be able to see his front door, we understand we need more hands, more funds (to rent out a large dumpster) and more visits to carry out this project!” Francis wrote on social media.
“It’s still a jungle out there,” said Gabriel. “That first dumpster was completely full in the first two hours.” The couple started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for the $800 Recology dumpsters but then realized they really want to celebrate Dexter’s birthday, too. As of press time, they have raised more than $2,000.
“A big element is being grateful for everything Oakley has done in his life. He is an example of what it looks like to be a public servant,” said Francis. “He’s been a Superintendent of Children’s Ministry at a church, a successful business owner, and a volunteer firefighter for 60 years. I think that he is very inspirational. There’s a lot of life he’s lived.”
Gabriel met with Bud’s Pub and Grill owners who knew “the Oak” personally and gave them a discount on the venue. That’s good because they think they are going to need three of those $800 dumpsters when they do Oakley’s backyard.
“Cherie told me that the building was turning 100 also and that she had been looking for a way to celebrate that. She said it was a perfect event,” said Gabriel. So far, they have garnered donations from Costco, Sam’s Club, Dunkin’ Donuts, Chick fil-A gift cards for Oakley’s dinners, Noah’s Bagels in Vacaville.
Some recognitions will be by the Dixon Mayor, Congressman Thompson’s office, the Dixon Police Department, and a special presentation by the Fire Chief from Central Fire Department (formerly Larkspur) Ruben Martin where Oakley was a volunteer fireman for many years.
“After the birthday, the next step will be to plan a service day,” Gabriel said. “Brandon Cody owns a small business and he’ll donate a trailer and park it in the front yard and will take it to the dump, too. We’re hoping to get Oakley’s yard first clean, then secondly where it requires minimal work [to maintain.]”
The date for the backyard cleanup will be posted in this newspaper and also on social media. If you can or want to help, email Liz [email protected].