April , 2019

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DuQuoin – Following the death of her husband, U.S. Navy Seabee Claud E. Cripps in May 2013 due to exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, Ada Ruth Cripps continued her tradition of volunteer service, first at the General John A. Logan Museum, and later at the IDVA’s Murphysboro Veterans Service Office.

From her efforts with the IDVA, she has helped veterans and widows with detailed research to support claims, worked to establish state-wide IDVA standards for digitized veterans’ records, and in hundreds of hours of what others would call tedious, she pours meticulously over veterans’ files, some going back as far as the Revolutionary War.  Her diligence, dedication, and great contributions to our veterans and their families are why she was named as the first IDVA Volunteer of the Year in a ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015 at the DuQuoin State Fair, with Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Assistant Director Harry Sawyer presenting the honors.

“Ada Ruth Cripps represents an amazing quality we wish we had in all of our VSO offices state-wide,” said Sawyer. “She has served – first as a Navy, then a veteran’s spouse – and now she’s bringing her passions, great knowledge and curiosity, along with a great work ethic to help our veterans and their families. She has given so much of herself – we are grateful.”

Ada and Claud married in Oct. 1960 and had two children: Julie and Ben.  While Claud served in the Seebees, the U.S. Navy’s Naval Construction Forces around the world, Ada raised her family and helped her husband with his Navy career.  It was during this time that she somehow acquired a solid working knowledge of the military’s myriad forms and documents, as well as their often arcane reporting and filing system.

“Ada is an amazing worker, volunteer, and partner, “said Kathy Bower, Veteran Service Officer, for the Murphysboro IDVA office. “She first came in as a young widow, seeking help with her claim and soon became an amazing asset for the veterans and the agency.  She represents the very best of what our veterans and their families give and bring back with them from service.  She’s amazing.”

Ada and Claud have four grandchildren: Jayme, a Professor of English and American Indian Cultures, St Charles City College, St Charles IL; Jared, who serves with the 1st Cavalry Division, Ft. Hood, TX, and Afghanistan, 2013-14; Maggie, a 14-year old who adores history and singing; and Eli, a13-year old who loves military history, especially the American Civil War.  Ada says her best buddy is “Ace” a three-year-old, 65-pound Lab mix.

Sawyer presented Cripps a framed certificate naming her the IDVA Volunteer of the Year, and an Illinois State flag. She was nominated by Kathy Bower and was selected out of a field of 14 nominees, gathered from sources state-wide.

The IDVA Volunteer of the Year highlights and honors Illinois volunteers whose contributions in service to the veteran community and their local communities are truly above and beyond. Nominees are evaluated on the basis of their leadership, dedication, innovation, and impact in serving these communities. Recipients are those whose efforts add to the powerful narrative that volunteers make a difference, and who’s efforts all of Illinois’ communities stand to benefit.

Please contact Ryan Yantis, communication manager, IDVA, ryan.yantis@illinois.gov or 312-814-0778 with any question concerning the IDVA.

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