The rosary repair man

by Moira Cullings
moira.cullings@theleaven.org

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a dull moment the past year and a half I’ve worked for The Leaven.

Coming from a business background, I had only heard distant stories from friends in journalism about the organized chaos that working for a newspaper entails.

It’s no different for The Leaven.

Just this past weekend I was reminded that, as a reporter, I should always be on my toes.

I received an email from Anita, our managing editor, saying we needed a front page story for the next issue, and I had to go out for an interview ASAP.

I headed to the assignment Monday morning, slightly unsure what the man I was meeting with would be like.

All I knew was his name is Bob and he fixes rosaries.

Turns out, like a lot of the people in the archdiocese I meet, he was not at all what I expected.

When I finally figured out where he lived (I tend to get lost. On this particular morning I spent five minutes driving in circles around his assisted living place), I was warmly invited into his home.

The first thing Bob did was bring me to a table lined with colorful rosaries, from which he told me to choose my favorite to take home.

I was humbled by his warm gesture. Having never grown up with a grandpa, the way I always imagined what mine would have been like was pretty well summed up in Bob.

During our interview, Bob was modest and sweet, speaking mostly of how happy it makes him to fix other people’s rosaries.

He mentioned serving in World War II but didn’t say much about it.

When we finished talking, Bob opened a drawer full of files from different times in his life. He handed me three small packets to take home and get to know more of his story.

After I left, Bob had one request — that I say a Hail Mary for him.

I couldn’t help but admire his love for the faith and passion for his rosary ministry.

At home, pouring over Bob’s packets, I was taken aback.

Bob served in the Marine Corps during World War II from 1943-1946. He spent six months on a ship that participated in three invasions — Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa.

Bob was wounded in Saipan and received a Purple Heart.

His unit occupied Nagasaki after the second atom bomb was dropped, and he was there for four months until he was finally shipped back home where he left the corps in 1946.

Reading Bob’s story was incredible. I couldn’t believe this sweet, elderly man who spoke to me with such humility had played such a crucial role in our country’s history.

Bob is 91, and years from now stories like his will only be told by second sources.

I felt so honored knowing I was able to hear his firsthand.

Yes, working for The Leaven often means a lot of last-minute assignments, and thriving on chaos.

But the stories we get to tell are always worth it.

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