For master beekeeper Lawrence DuBose, of Carol Stream, WWII experience was an inspiration to keep giving

Carol Stream, IL

On a pleasant Sunday in July, Lawrence DuBose sat in an old folding chair and reached for a large photo of a queen bee surrounded by worker bees.

“All the female bees in a colony do all of the work,” he said to a small group of five or six people sitting in the room with him.

He went on talking, reaching for various props related to beekeeping, educating the group about the inner workings of a bee hive and the hobby of keeping an apiary.

For the past 30 years DuBose — a resident of Carol Stream — has volunteered as master beekeeper at the Honey House at Kline Creek Farm in West Chicago. He spends each Sunday tending to the bees and teaching visitors about honeybees. Jars of honey line the Honey House’s window, capturing the sunlight. Small, multi-colored beeswax figurines can be found everywhere.   

At 92 years old, DuBose has a full head of white hair he combs neatly back. He can explain the complex nature of honey just as quickly as he can fetch memories from his past.

That past includes service in World War II. In his life, he has been married, had a family, earned a PhD in civil engineering, had a successful career as a civil engineer and consultant and traveled the world helping developing countries. He has written about beekeeping and says that in his lifetime he has given about $1 million in scholarships to young men and women pursuing careers as civil engineers.

DuBose traces the beginning of his adult life to one particular day.

That day was in 1945, during World War II. DuBose was serving on the front lines in France. A German soldier shot him in the gut from less than 100 yards away.

“I got shot. I thought that was my last day cause I was sort of up in no-man’s land and everybody else had retreated,” DuBose said.

A fellow soldier stayed with him, refusing to leave his side, but DuBose pleaded with the soldier to leave him and retreat with the other men.

“I figured I’d had it,” he said.

Then, the last two men to retreat saw DuBose, picked him up and rescued him from enemy lines.
Because of the stomach wound, DuBose could not get a job immediately after the war. Instead, he taught civil engineering at Texas A&M University. From there, he earned his PhD and went on to have a successful career as a civil engineer and consultant. 

DuBose acknowledges he is one of the few World War II soldiers remaining.

As he and other surviving veterans age, it becomes more difficult for them to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., For such veterans, an organization called the Pillars of Honor has been traveling the Midwest with a replica of the Washington, D.C., World War II monument.

Noreen Lake sits on the board of directors at Pillars of Honor.

“This is the original model that was presented to congress for approval,” Lake said.
The 800-pound monument takes up eight square feet when completely set up.

“Our mission is to reach as many WWII vets as we can to let them see what their WWII model looks like,” Lake said.

So far, the Pillars of Honor organization has traveled to libraries, VFW hall parking lots and park districts. The organization also holds programs called Days of Honor to celebrate the veterans who are able to see the traveling monument.

“We have done 20 of them already since we received the model. We’re scheduled (to visit places) through the rest of the year,”  Lake said.

For the veterans, the experience can be moving.

“They’re all very excited. They’re all very appreciative, sometimes they’re in tears,” she said.

The memorial replica visited Itasca’s Washington Park on July 8 — the same Sunday DuBose spent teaching strangers about bees.

In past decades DuBose kept in touch with the men he knew during the war. Most of them are now memories.

“(Seeing a memorial) is not that big a thing for me. The people I related with (after WWII) are, with two exceptions, all gone,” DuBose said.

His children and grandchildren do not ask him about the war and he does not spend much time thinking about it, he said. Still, he has written memoirs about his service, for posterity to remember him and his wife Wanda.

“What I have gotten of the war, and I don’t know how to say this exactly, but it has inspired me to do what I’m doing, volunteering at Kline Creek Farm,” DuBose said. “It’s a feeling that I have that I’m one of the most fortunate people to still be alive.”