TOPEKA — Harold Facklam Jr. doesn’t think about how his donations of 32 gallons of life-saving blood have affected others or even saved lives. He remembers the reasons why he began his service to those in need of such a precious gift.
“I just did it because it was something that I could do. I never served in the military, and I probably could have or should have maybe, but World War II was over before I was old enough,” he said. “The Korean War would have been about right, but then we got married and a year later we had a child, so I was deferred. I think I always maybe felt a little bit guilty about that, that I didn’t serve in the military because there was a lot of my high school classmates that did. I thought, maybe this is some way I can help.”
Facklam was recently honored with the Assisted Living Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding citizenship. The Kansas Health Care Association and the Kansas Center for Assisted Living recognized his contributions, specifically 259 pints, or 32 gallons, of blood that he donated through the American Red Cross.
He credits his late father, Harold Facklam Sr., with encouraging him to donate at just shy of 21 years of age in January 1951. At that time, a parent’s consent was required if you weren’t 21, but Facklam Jr. was married so he could donate. His father began donating in 1947 and gave blood for about 11 years, stopping at age 60 when he was no longer allowed to give.
“My father was giving; he certainly had a great influence on me. He was so pleased to give, and that’s why I started, of course,” Facklam said.
Facklam donated until April 30, 2015, for 64 years of his 87 years of life. Health reasons caused him stop. For years, every time a newspaper or radio announcement said the Red Cross would be in Junction City or Fort Riley accepting donations, he was there to do his part. As soon as he gave, he would make his next appointment to do so again.
He donated a pint of whole blood each time, four times a year and was recognized by the Kansas American Red Cross with 38 pins as he reached specific gallon markers.
Facklam was nominated for the lifetime achievement award after personnel at McCrite Plaza Topeka saw a display of Facklam’s pins hanging on the wall in his residence.
“We thought he would be the perfect person to nominate for it, and we were really excited when we found out he had won the award,” said Kelsie Dawson, marketing assistant.
Other family members also have become donors, including a daughter and granddaughter. Facklam said his son-in-law John Jameson is No. 2 in blood donations in Junction City, coming in right below Facklam.
He and his wife, Venice, have been married for 66 years. They lived in Geary County from 1963 to October 2016.