All in the family: WWII and Korean War veteran’s car goes to local veteran in need


CULLMAN – After the passing of local WWII and Korean War veteran Robert F. Palfrey, Sr., his family decided to do a little good with his little-used automobile.  They contacted United Way of Cullman County (UWCC) Executive Director Sammie Danford who knew just what to do.

Palfrey, Sr. served in WWII and the Korean War, Danford told The Tribune in an email. He was also the owner of a 2004 Cadillac, in very good condition (49,000 miles) and the family wanted to find a good home for it.  Danford knows the family through church, and they asked her if she knew of someone in need of a vehicle. “I, in turn, got in touch with Saving Forgotten Warriors, who knew someone that would definitely be a great recipient,” Danford said.

Palfrey, Sr.’s daughter Marcia “Marci” Jacob donated the 2004 Cadillac SLS.

Jacob wrote of her father, and of the family’s decision. “A veteran of WW II and Korea, he instilled in us, my two brothers, Bobby and Doug, the values of hard work, honesty, love of country and most of all love of God.  Although we did not always agree with him, we always admired him for living what he preached!  He was a fantastic daddy! When he died a couple of months ago at the age of 93, we pondered what to do with his car.  None of the family really needed it and we wanted to do something with it to honor him. 

“Sammie is a good friend and when I mentioned our desire to her, she had the perfect solution! My brothers and I have no doubt he would be very pleased his well-cared-for car would go to another veteran!”

The recipient of Palfrey, Sr.’s Cadillac is Rodney Allen Sherrell, who served as a cannon crewman in the U.S. Army from 1991 to 1994, stationed at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  Other than his time in service, he is a lifelong resident of West Point, where he worked as a welder.

In Sept. 2016, Sherrell suffered a stroke which left him partially paralyzed on his right side.  The event also affected his speech, cognitive abilities and fine motor skills.  After a month of rehab at UAB Hospital, he began outpatient rehab at the V.A. Hospital in Birmingham. 

The family lost its only car a while back in an accident.  Since that time, the Sherrells have had to arrange for rides to and from doctor and rehab appointments in Birmingham, and have been limited in their ability to attend events at their kids’ school.  The gift will help make them an independent family once again.  Sherrell is not currently able to drive, so his wife Yolanda Sherrell will handle that responsibility.

Jeremy Hogan, founder of Saving Forgotten Warriors, talked about the decision to assist the Sherrells. “We’ve actually been helping them for about a year, I guess.  They’ve been without a vehicle for quite some time, and being that he had that stroke about a year ago, he’s not been able to get back and forth to the hospital without somebody giving him a ride.  And they’ve got two teenage kids that (have) sports games and things like that, that they haven’t been able to go to.

“Being able to give them something like this is not only going to benefit them to be able to get them around, but he deserves it.  He did his time, he’s a great guy.  He just hit a rough spot.  I couldn’t find anybody better to do it.”

As the Sherrells prepared to drive off in their new car, Yolanda Sherrell simply offered to all involved, “Thanks!  From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!”

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