Into the living room of Eugene Philipp walks Jim Lalor with a Saran wrap-sealed meal in one hand and a newspaper he found half-buried in the snow on Philipp’s driveway in the other.
The couches are draped in quilted blankets, and the tabletop wood speaks 1970s.
Born, raised, and still living in Woodstock, Philipp is 86 years old.
Philipp’s doctor is finishing taking his pulse and checking his blood sugar in the kitchen when Lalor, 78, lets himself into the home with an ease and familiarity that any other deliveryman might not bring with him.
He sets the veggies and thick slab of meat on the kitchen counter, and the two men begin their weekly jokes.
“I came so he can harass me,” Lalor says.
“I don’t harass you,” Philipp says. “I just give you a bad time!”
Philipp is the first of 10 stops Lalor will make this morning to deliver meals as part of his volunteer work for Meals on Wheels every Friday, which he began doing 5½ years ago.
“Most of these people you take the food to are kind of homebound,” Lalor said.
“So you’re doing a service. It’s something I enjoy doing.”
The food is prepared in Geneva, Lalor said, and then delivered to the Woodstock Senior Citizens Center at Walden Oaks in Woodstock, where Lalor picks them up and begins his morning route.
“He’s a good guy, a conversationalist,” Philipp said of Lalor. “This is a really nice service. If I didn’t get my food delivered here, someone would have to pick me up. I appreciate this service.”
Lalor, who lived and worked on a dairy farm all his life – owning his own in Hebron for more than 35 years – retired in the late 1990s and moved to Woodstock recently.
Along with Meals On Wheels, he also volunteers at Centegra Hospital – Woodstock three days a week on the transportation team. He escorts people being released from the hospital to their cars, helps nurses take patients from room to room if they need surgery, and even delivers flowers.
“I work with some really good people,” Lalor said, “and I look forward to going to work every day. It’s kind of like a family.”
Laura Gaydosh, who volunteers with Lalor at the hospital, said that she and her co-workers agree that Lalor brings a certain positivity with him that makes him a pleasure to work with.
“He’s just one of the nicest people you’d want to be around,” she said. “He is such a nice, gracious man who’s willing to pitch in to help out.”
Lalor and his wife, who died in 2007, also were heavily involved in the Marian Central Boosters Club when their five children, who are all in their 40s now, went to high school there. They organized a bingo night once a month, and as Lalor’s four sons were all big athletes, Lalor pitched in for the athletic department, as well.
“I didn’t want to sit around,” he said. “I wanted to do something. I was pretty active all my life.”
And he doesn’t plan on stopping in the future. either. He plans to continue volunteering at the hospital and with Meals on Wheels for as long as he can.
“I think there’s a few people in [Meals on Wheels] here that, if you can visit with them a few minutes,” Lalor said, “that might help their day out.”
It’s what keeps him going.
The Lalor lowdown
Family: He and his wife, who died in 2007, have five children: Laura; Joe; Mike; and the twins, Chris and Tim.
Favorite sports teams: Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs
Favorite books: Historical nonfiction on the Cold War or World War II
Past work: Dairy farmer for more than 35 years in Hebron