Kansas man gives 32 gallons of blood over 64 years

Harold Facklam Jr. doesn’t think about how his donations of 32 gallons of life-saving blood have affected others or even saved lives. He remembers the reasons why he began his service to those in need of such a precious gift.

“I just did it because it was something that I could do. I never served in the military at all, and I probably could have or should have maybe, but World War II was over before I was old enough,” he said. “The Korean War would have been about right, but then we got married and a year later we had a child, so I was deferred. I think I always maybe felt a little bit guilty about that, that I didn’t serve in the military because there was a lot of my high school classmates that did. I thought, maybe this is some way I can help.”

Facklam was honored with the Assisted Living Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding citizenship at a recent luncheon. The Kansas Health Care Association and the Kansas Center for Assisted Living recognized his contributions, specifically 259 pints, or 32 gallons, of blood that he donated through the American Red Cross.

He credits his late father Harold Facklam Sr. with encouraging him to donate at just shy of 21 years of age in January 1951. At that time a parent’s consent was required if you weren’t 21, but Facklam Jr. was married so he could donate. His father began donating in 1947 and gave blood for about 11 years, stopping at age 60 when he was no longer allowed to give.

“My father was giving; he certainly had a great influence on me. He was very, so pleased to give and that’s why I started, of course,” Facklam said.

Facklam donated until April 30, 2015, for 64 years of his 87 years of life. Health reasons caused him to stop. For years, every time a newspaper or radio announcement said the Red Cross would be in Junction City or Fort Riley accepting donations, he was there to do his part. As soon as he gave, he would make his next appointment to do so again.

He donated a pint each time of whole blood, four times a year and was recognized by the Kansas American Red Cross with 38 pins as he reached specific gallon markers.

Facklam also was recognized for his volunteer work with the United Church of Christ in Geary County, where he spearheaded the committee that rebuilt the church after it was destroyed by lightning in 2001.

“Church was a very important part of our life, always,” he said. “On Aug. 23, 2001, the church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, but the Christian Education Building, which was right beside it, was saved, so we were able to continue to worship there for about two years while we were building the new church at a different location. I was the treasurer for that committee, so I wrote all the checks.”

Facklam was nominated for the lifetime achievement award after personnel at McCrite Plaza Topeka saw a display of Facklam’s pins hanging on the wall in his residence.

“We thought he would be the perfect person to nominate for it, and we were really excited when we found out he had won the award,” said Kelsie Dawson, marketing assistant.

Other family members also have become donors, including a daughter and granddaughter. Facklam said his son-in-law John Jameson is number two in blood donations in Junction City, coming in right below Facklam.

He and his wife Venice Facklam have been married for 66 years. They lived in Geary County from 1963 to October 2016, and have two daughters, Linda Smith of Jackson County and Karen Jameson of Junction City, and four grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.