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Helping fellow veterans: Thelma Luckey serves more than food

Thelma Luckey

Thelma Luckey stops to chat with Hefner VA Medical Center Kaye Green and others who came out to the veterans appreciation dinner in 2015

Thelma Luckey stops to chat with Hefner VA Medical Center Kaye Green and others who came out to the veterans appreciation dinner in 2015

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Thelma’s Down Home Cooking, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd., is a restaurant frequented by locals and by travelers who regularly pass through our great state. Well-known for her signature dipped chicken, baked macaroni and cheese, country-style steak and daily specials, Thelma’s cooking reminds folks of food like Grandma used to make.

What many people may not know about Thelma Luckey is her personal patronage and devotion to veterans. Sure, her restaurant offers a discount to veterans, but there is so much more. She is a veteran herself, and it is something near and dear to her heart to cater to this particular demographic sector.

And cater she has. For three years running, Thelma and her team (along with veterans and their volunteers) have catered to hundreds of veterans in the surrounding area. Each guest who chooses to attend is served with some of her best: fried chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, a fine selection of desserts and plenty of smiles. The event has brought veterans together for a fine night of music, dancing and quality time together.

Thelma had approached the Rowan County Board of Commissioners three years ago with her desire to cater such an event in the vacant space left at the JCPenney’s store in the Salisbury Mall. The board agreed to allow her use of the empty store that first year, not really knowing what else to do with the space anyway. Her idea has now sparked a wave of interest in renting the space for public events.

The Rowan County Board of Commissioners has recognized how monumental Thelma was in generating revenue, and they have allowed her to continue catering to our veterans at this location in subsequent years. They deserve much praise for their assistance in helping Thelma’s idea shine and also to helping honor our veterans.

Thelma deserves much praise, as well. This year went off without a hitch, and everyone involved went home smiling from great food, company and entertainment.

Thelma’s catering to veterans doesn’t end with this yearly event, though. She reaches out on a weekly basis, too (beyond the discounted meal offered).

Every Tuesday morning, before official restaurant opening, Thelma opens her doors to all veterans from all branches of service in what has been dubbed Thelma’s Frontier Coffee Shop.

Each Wednesday, the Lion’s Club has chosen to hold their meetings at her restaurant, claiming her party room as their “den,” so to speak. They all come together for a few hours in a warm, hospitable environment where they enjoy each other’s company and speak of to-do activities for veterans.

On Friday, Thelma once again attended the local Veterans Day Parade to recognize that Veterans Day is a “monumental day for all vets.”  You might have seen her there.

These are only some of the ways that Thelma Luckey seeks to give back to our bravest of countrymen: our veterans.

As we celebrate this Veterans Day, let us remember also Thelma and all of the veterans who appreciate each other with her and who are appreciated by her.

I hope your Veterans Day was filled with friends, family and some really good food, and may you give thanks to all who have served our outstanding country. It’s what Thelma would hope for as she gives thanks and says, “God Bless.”

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