Veteran at heart of museum to be missed

Published 01/15 2014 11:34AM

Updated 01/15 2014 11:40AM

Update: 10:07 pm
DANVILLE -- A war hero who started the area's veterans museum has died. Harold "Sparky" Songer was 88-years old. He fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

When he got back home, he led the charge to open the Vermilion County War Museum in 1999. He started as a volunteer and worked his way to president.

Funeral services will be held Thursday at Pape Family Funeral Home.
Original: 6:06 pm
DANVILLE -- Harold "Sparky" Songer was a local treasure. He fought in three U.S. wars and came to home to start a veterans' museum. He died Sunday, but the museum will always be a reminder of the person people knew and loved. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine has his story.

Inside the Vermilion County War Museum, Jim Kousmanoff is proud of all the collectibles. But, he'll be the first to tell you Harold "Sparky" Songer played a big role in getting it off the ground.

"The museum was open to the public from noon to three pm. Sparky was here at 7 am everyday and he rarely left at 3 pm."

Sparky fought in three wars for the US. When he got home, he wanted to remember his fellow soldiers. In 1999, the Vermilion County War Museum opened its doors.

"It's just a remembrance of your loved ones, your buddies, your friends that have passed on."

But, one exhibit meant a little bit more.

"Sparky's pride and joy is this display dedicated to the prisoners of war and missing in action."

"I didn't know a lot about POW's in World War II until I came here to Danville."

Sparky retired three years ago.

"It's been a gradual transition. Three or four new volunteers in the last three years and they contributed quite a bit. They made up for what Sparky did by himself."

"It's a legacy we all want to live up to, is what it amounts to."

They say "home is where the heart is." Sparky's heart will always be left inside this museum.

"This was his home."

Songer was captured by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge, but he escaped. He also received a Purple Heart. Funeral services will be held Thursday at Pape Family Funeral Home.

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