Gift of a new shower allows Lawrence veteran to remain in his home

photo by: Kathy Hanks

Delores and Dennis Sooby, in front, pose with three strangers who became their friends, Eddie Cisneros, Adam Fearling and Mark Oberforcher. The three men arrived at the Soobys' Lawrence home to install a handicapped-accessible shower on Nov. 9, 2018.

A walk-in shower was giving Veterans Day new meaning for a Lawrence man Friday afternoon.

Dennis Sooby, an Army veteran who served in occupied Japan at the end of World War II, watched as Adam Fearing, a much younger veteran who had served in Iraq, helped make his bathroom handicapped-accessible.

“It’s fantastic,” said Sooby, 91, as he watched.

After serving in the military, Sooby became a commercial pilot and eventually served as chief pilot for the University of Kansas for 17 years. He is currently receiving in-home care from Kansas Palliative and Hospice Care, and he uses a wheelchair because the bone cancer in his hip makes it difficult to walk.

Sooby and his wife, Delores, hated the thought of moving from the East Lawrence home where they had lived since 1961 and raised their four children, but the house had only a bathtub. It had become too difficult for Sooby to climb in and out of it, so the couple were looking into a handicapped-accessible independent living arrangement.

Terry Downing, the Soobys’ community relations representative with Kansas Palliative and Hospice Care, spoke to Jamie Cox, the organization’s veterans volunteer care coordinator, about Sooby’s need. Cox also happens to be a member of the Leavenworth VFW.

Eddie Cisneros, the owner of Neighborhood Renovations LLC, said he had heard about Sooby’s need from some members of the Leavenworth VFW.

Not only were Sooby and his wife, Delores, overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers who had come from Leavenworth to install the shower for free, but the workers were emotional as well.

“That’s who we are,” Cisneros said, fighting back tears.

photo by: Kathy Hanks

Eddie Cisneros, owner of Neighborhood Renovations LLC, of Leavenworth, Adam Fearing, a veteran of the U.S. Marines and Army, and Mark Oberforcher work in the bathroom of Lawrence veteran Dennis Sooby on Nov. 9, 2018.

Cisneros was between jobs and had the time to do the work. He offered to pay his employees Fearing and Mark Oberforcher to help with the installation, but they refused the money.

The men will have driven the 68-mile round trip from Leavenworth to Lawrence three times to take out the old bathtub and install the shower and tile around the shower. They planned to finish up on Monday.

The materials cost about $700 and were donated by Home Depot, as well as Cottin’s Hardware, both of Lawrence. Realty Group of Leavenworth also donated money.

After the first day of tearing out the old cast-iron tub, Fearing, a veteran of the U.S. Marines and Army, told Cisneros it was the most fulfilling work he had ever done.

photo by: Kathy Hanks

Delores Sooby hugs Mark Oberforcher, who is helping to install a shower in her Lawrence home, as Terry Downing with Kansas Palliative and Hospice Care looks on, Nov. 9, 2018.

Meanwhile, Delores was offering big hugs to the three men, no longer strangers.

“We just want to do something nice for someone,” Cisneros said, wiping his tears.

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