Extra special gift

New York state artist Eric Jones stands behind World War II veterans David “Curly” Walters (from left) and Elmer DeLucia who are holding caricature sketches created by Jones Wednesday for them and other veterans residing at the Chapel Ridge and the Ecumenical Home campus. On the wall behind them are caricatures of other veterans at the assisted living and nursing facilities.

When David “Curly” Walters looked at the caricature sketch that depicted him in the Army Air Force, he told artist Eric Jones that it was the best thing he ever received.

On Wednesday, Jones, an artist from the Richburg, N.Y., area, created caricatures of approximately 30 veterans in the Bradford Ecumenical Home and Chapel Ridge nursing and assisted living facilities on St. Francis Drive.

Becky Greenberg, activities director, said that through the use of computer graphics, Jones incorporated the branch of service for each veteran into the background of the sketches. She said the artwork of the veterans will be framed and displayed for Veterans Day, observed nationally on Monday, and then gifted to the veterans.

“It’s such a pleasure to bring joy to our veterans, that’s just a big goal we have,” Greenberg explained.

Linda Howard, Ecumenical Home director of facility development, said Jones’ work was funded through a Community Impact quarterly grant from the United Way of the Bradford Area.

“The United Way has always been gracious in allowing us to have some great programming,” Howard added. “With programming and activities, this is kind of an idea that we came up with for Veterans Day. Eric (Jones) has been with us before for Grandparents’ Day and he’s been here for Pumpkin Fest in town.”

Along those lines, one of Jones’ other artistic talents has been recognized in his elaborate carving of pumpkins. He does so well with this craft that he landed a spot in the Food Network Pumpkin Wars carving contest that will be broadcast nationally next year.

Jones said he has drawn for other projects at the Ecumenical Home campus, but this was his first time to create sketches of veterans. He noted the sketches are made with his digital caricature equipment.

“My online caricature business is my full-time work,” he said of the Eric Jones Caricature company.

Jones said he enjoyed creating caricatures for veterans who included Walters and Elmer DeLucia, who both served in World War II, because they’re “amazing guys.”

The artist said many of his family members have served in the military, which made the project even more special to him.

“My son is actually in the Army ROTC, and has a national scholarship (for college), so it’s kind of neat to see these (veterans),” he added.

Walters, who is 97, said he really enjoyed the curls that were drawn in his hair in the caricature as they were how he obtained his nickname as a young man in high school.

DeLucia, who is also 97 and an Army veteran, said the picture created of him by Jones was the “most remarkable thing” he ever received.

Both veterans, who have been friends since their high school days 80 years ago, said they plan to keep their caricatures.

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)