Morris veterans provide transportation to and from appointments

(From left) John Connon, David Way, Ray Paulson and Bill Capper

There’s a need for drivers to get patients who can’t drive to their medical appointments, a need that’s met with the help of many volunteers with the Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers.

For David Way, John Connon, Bill Capper and Ray Paulson, stepping up where they’re needed isn’t new. Each of them served in the military in their younger days.

To this day, one attitude shines through: “You get out what you put in.”

Connon, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1969 to 1978, said it doesn’t take much to volunteer.

“When you see the good you’re doing for these people, especially giving them a way to socialize on their way there and back, you realize they’d be in rough shape if you weren’t doing this,” Connon said. “I always feel that way. You get a lot more out than what you put in.”

Paulson, who served in the Navy from 1952 to 1956, said he started volunteering in 1998 after a friend told him the hospital needed people to step up.

“You’re helping people, and they’re good people,” Paulson said. “The volunteers are great, and it’s worthwhile. I enjoy it.”

Way said he wanted to volunteer more after his involvement with Habitat for Humanity. While Habitat was a seasonal venture, driving the bus is a year-round job. Way said he’s had some good experiences over his lifetime, and that led him to wanting to help.

Way, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1967 to 1971, moved to Morris from New York. He said he found a family-oriented community of people willing to help.

“I know when I was in Vietnam, helping the South Vietnamese stay safe from the tyrannical North Vietnamese that were trying to overtake them. I thought maybe we weren’t really supposed to be there,” Way said. “But my theory was that if we could save just one life, it was all worthwhile. That’s the way we are here. We’re bringing someone to an appointment they wouldn’t be able to get to. It could save their life down the road, and that’s important.”

Capper, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1973 to 1979, said there’s no other way for some of these folks to get to their appointments.

Connon said it can be funny at times, because there are a few people they pick up who haven’t talked to another person in days and they’ll talk anyone’s ear off. Way agreed, but it makes them happy to provide the company.

Capper said it’s not too different from his time serving on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea. In those days, he was a ham radio operator, and would stay up all night helping others make phone calls home using the radio with the help of another guy’s wife, who had one set up in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Every night when we were out at sea, she’d run phone calls,” Capper said. “They were always collect to whoever they wanted to call, and we had a line going down the hallway with guys waiting to make calls.”

To this day, they all still help people in any way they can, but always could use more help with transportation. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Morris Hospital had about 80 people helping with transportation. It currently has 50 volunteers and is looking for more. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec covers Grundy County and the City of Morris, Coal City, Minooka, and more for the Morris Herald-News