by Tina Johansson
Robert “Bob” Sittler adores his hometown. And he is crazy about his volunteer work at the Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. But there is something he may love even more.
It’s no secret that the 82-year-old lifelong Waukegan resident has a fondness for this great country and particularly Old Glory.
“I fly it every single day,” said Sittler, a veteran of the Korean War. “On every Memorial Day I put up a new one. I have a flag pole 30-feet high.”
Betsy Ross isn’t his only sweetheart. Sittler has been married to Carol for 60 years, and most of that time they’ve resided in the same house.
Up until he had an operation on his leg not long ago, Waukegan Township Supervisor Patricia Jones would often call upon Sittler to carry the flag for various functions.
“We’re fortunate, because a lot of our neighbors love the flag too, and fly it often,” said Sittler from his home.
Throughout the year he collects unwanted and discarded flags, saving them up for a yearly Boy Scout burning.
“I have bags of flags here right now,” he said.
And when he’s not focusing on flags, his other passion, volunteering, takes up the rest of his time.
Sittler has been a die-hard volunteer for more than 17 years at the Lovell FHCC. In fact he even received a certificate for nearly 12,000 hours of service.
You might say volunteering is in his blood. “My father (Frank Sittler), was a veteran of WWI and also a volunteer at American Legion Post 381 in Waukegan,” he said proudly.
After pushing wheelchairs for some time, Sittler was offered a desk job—volunteer— in which three days each week he answers phone calls and forwards questions.
But he has never quit visiting patients in their rooms and bringing them canteen books to spend.
“I stand in the doorway, and give them a salute before I enter. I give every one of the vets a salute. I wouldn’t think otherwise,” he said.
According to Chief Community Affairs Officer Kenneth List, Sittler is one of 800 volunteers at the Lovell FHCC, and approximately 300 of them live at the facility.
Once each year they are treated to a volunteer banquet.