CLAYPOOL — A man who lived through the Great Depression, fought in the Pacific Theater during World War II and was once scouted by reps for the Philadelphia Phillies is retired and living in a house on the west edge of Claypool.
Donald Shively was born March 6, 1922, in Burket, to Ernest and Hazel Shively. He has resided in Claypool most of his life.
Shively graduated from Claypool High School in 1940. After high school, he worked at Power King, a maker of band saws and lathes, in Warsaw.
On Nov. 11, 1942 — Veterans Day, Shively was drafted into the U.S. Army. At that time, the United States was immersed in World War II. Shively was assigned to the Pacific Theater with the 81st Wildcat Infantry Division in field artillery.
He began basic training at what is now Fort Rucker, Ala.
“I started on Thanksgiving Day — I remember that,” said Shively.
“First we went to Alabama, from there we went to Tennessee, then to Arizona where we trained in the desert to get used to the heat,” said Shively. “Following that, we went to San Luis Obispo, California, then to another camp north of Sacramento, then to Hawaii.”
He traveled from Hawaii to Guadacanal and then on to the Philippines. “I took the scenic tour,” he said.
Shively was a staff sergeant and was involved in the Battle of Peleliu, which took place on the island of Peleliu.
The Battle of Peleliu was fought between the U.S, and Japan during WWII, from September to November 1944. U.S. Marines, and later soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 81st Infantry Division, fought to capture an airstrip on the island. The three-month battle was initially predicted to last three days.
With the highest casualty rate of any amphibious assault in American military history, the Battle of Peleliu resulted in 40 percent of Marines and soldiers who fought for the island being killed or wounded.
Following his discharge from the military in January 1946, Shively returned home and took over the Standard Oil bulk plant. He worked there for 29 years until the business closed.
Shively then delivered school buses for Kerlin Bus Sales & Leasing, Inc. in Silver Lake.
“I enjoyed that,” said Shively. “I was all over Indiana.”
Shively was 90 years old when he delivered his last bus.
Shively and Frances Neff were married Feb. 14, 1944, in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The couple had three sons, Tom, Dave and John, who all reside in Claypool. In 2015, Frances passed away.
Donald and Frances had Warsaw High School season tickets for 47 years. Prior to that, they held season tickets at Claypool High School for many years.
They also attended approximately 300 Chicago Cubs baseball games.
After his return from the military, Shively was playing baseball in a local league. Following a game in Fort Wayne, a couple of scouts from the Philadelphia Phillies came into the locker room and asked Shively if he had ever considered playing professional baseball.
“They introduced themselves as scouts for the Phillies, but I was 24 or 25 years old and I had a good job with Standard Oil and I turned it down,” Shively said.
Donald and Frances Shively became members of Claypool United Methodist Church in the 1940s prior to the current church being built. He continues to attend church there.
Shively likes mowing his yard and tinkering in his shop. He also enjoys riding a stationary bike, which he does almost every day for half an hour.
He has eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
“I wouldn’t take a million dollars to do it again,” Shively said of his time in the military. “But I’m glad I did it and I’m glad it’s over.”
Shively was honored as the veteran of the month by the Kosciusko Commissioners in December 2015.