By Jennifer Astion
Jeff Conlee is a Texas native with decades of experiences with the Red Cross. In 1967, Conlee was stationed on a Naval ship in Long Beach, CA. He learned that his grandmother, who had raised him and his two brothers, was gravely ill back in Texas. “I had just joined the Navy a few months before that. The nursing home told me to get back to see my grandmother as soon as possible,” he explained. After calling another nonprofit that was not able to assist him, Jeff called the Red Cross. “The lady I spoke to said she could help me,” he continued. “She said she would meet me at the airport and gave me a check so I could fly that day.” Conlee was relieved to be able to comfort his ailing grandmother.
In 1979, Conlee and his wife Margy were living in Manvel, Texas. “On July 24 and 25, Tropical Storm Claudette dumped 45 inches of rain in 24 hours. We were living in a trailer. That area flooded and we were living in a lake. I had a boat and took some of our neighbors out to the main road. Then we got a ride to the Red Cross shelter at a high school,” he explained. The Red Cross shelter provided a safe place to sleep, drinks and sandwiches. After a couple of nights at that shelter, Conlee and his wife were able to stay with his aunt in a nearby town.
A third experience with the Red Cross came in 1985. “We were getting ready to adopt so we took a parenting class offered through the Red Cross. We were in our 30s and hadn’t been around kids in years. The class covered bathing, changing diapers – it was a refresher course,” he explained. The Conlees received exciting news later that year. “Margy and I adopted our daughter later in December. She was born on December 12 and the agency called us the day after Christmas,” he said.
The Conlees met in Seattle and have settled here for their retirement. “We met in 1969 after my ship was relocated to homeport in Seattle. I was discharged from the Navy in 1971. We were married and lived in Seattle for eight years, then moved to Texas and Colorado, and moved back here,” he explained.
When Conlee hears about natural disasters in Texas and other stories about people in need, he feels motivated to donate to the Red Cross. “The Red Cross is there for people more than other companies who say they are. I know a lot of people who have been helped by the Red Cross. Including myself,” Conlee noted.
Thank you to Jeff Conlee for being a Red Cross donor and congratulations to the Conlees who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in March 2020!