This coming Father's Day will be a special one for a Madison woman. She has come up with a way to feel closer to the father she never knew. He died in France in 1944 during World War II.
Betty Stevens came up with idea of having her father's medals made into a bracelet, for the Silver Star, and a necklace for the Purple Heart, so she could wear them this Father's Day and be able to pass them on to her daughters and granddaughters.
Stevens' strongest memory of her father is a picture of the two of them, taken in 1944. She was just two years old.
Then 25-year-old Joseph Jefferson Dear died in July of 1944 when he was hit by a German sniper near St. Lo, France. He was a , rifleman, a tech sergeant, with the 79th division that landed at Utah Beach a week after the initial Normandy invasion of June 6th, 1944.
He was from Mississippi, near Harrisville.
"You know, when I was at church or school, and we were making Father's Day cards, you know I didn't have a father, and so I always just kept quiet, because I didn't want to tell about my father" said Stevens. "I knew I would cry, but this father's day will be quiet different."
She is aware some veterans and others might not approve of her having the medals made into a necklace and bracelet, but it has made her very happy and the jeweler who did it justifies it this way.
"People get these medals and they put them in their drawer and it's never looked at again" said jeweler Ann Brunson. "The children have no history of it, to be able to show the love that she has for her father, every time she wears them."
Stevens has become friends with a Frenchman in Paris, Bernard Duval, who puts flowers on her father's grave and says a prayer each year on the anniversary of the invasion.
Stevens says she will feel closer to her father than ever, this Fathers Day, because she will be wearing his medals.
She plans to visit his grave next year.
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