VERSAILLES — Versailles donor Leroy Cordonnier reached his milestone 100th lifetime blood donation Monday, Sept. 21, when he joined 131 fellow donors supporting the Versailles Poultry Days Committee blood drive. It was a long journey to the milestone, but it took only moments for Leroy to reach back in time and remember his very first donation.
“It might have been in the ’60s but I don’t know the exact date,” he said. “It was a community blood drawing. I knew that it would help somebody. There were times that I knew people that needed blood and I donated for a certain name, but not usually. I think I started in the village of Russia before I got married. I usually donate in Versailles.”
He decided to search for a record of his donations with Community Blood Center. “I found a card here from April 15, 1975,” he announced. “It says, ‘donation number one.’ My one gallon came on April 18, 1978. That was back when they measured them in gallons.”
He was pleased to know that his 100th donation represented 12.5 gallons.
Leroy is 74 and retired from Sprint, where he worked as a lineman for 39 years. Reaching his “Donor for Life” milestone gives him encouragement after a difficult loss.
“Last year my wife passed away,” he said. “We just had gotten back from Arizona. We go there for the winter. She had a blood clot that went to her lung. We took her to the emergency room and couldn’t save her.”
Leroy and his wife Shirley were married 52 years. They have four children, 15 children and three great children. The youngest are a set of boy-girl twins in second grade. “They still live pretty close,” Leroy said about his children. “The farthest one is about 12 miles away. I can follow their activities – except in the winter when I’m out in Arizona.”
It was a lonely journey to Arizona last winter without Shirley, but there are family and friends in a familiar retirement community there for company. “My children are happy for that,” he said. “They know I’m not going to be shoveling any snow! You don’t get bored. There’s plenty to do.”
Supporting CBC is still a favorite way to stay busy. He enjoys spending time at the Great Darke County Fair and always stops by the CBC booth on “Blood Donor T-Shirt Day” to sign up for prizes and pick up a t-shirt that’s not already in his collection. Soon he’ll receive a special award from CBC, a “Donor for Life – 100 LTD” jacket. The jacket embroidery will make him easily recognizable as a CBC “ambassador” for the cause of saving lives through blood donations.
“I’ll probably take it to Arizona,” he said. “There might be a time or two I’ll need it out there. I’m just glad to make the milestone.” He will pack up for Arizona in December, leaving him just enough time to be eligible for his 101st lifetime donation before hitting the road and continuing his journey as a Donor for Life.