By Mike Hazlip—
Community leaders and veterans on Saturday joined family members to celebrate the life and contributions of Citrus Heights Veterans Community Center founder Jim Rounsavell who passed away earlier this year.
About 50 people attended the July 17 event, which also included a potluck lunch. Celtic Cross Pastor Bob Yule gave the opening prayer and Mayor Steve Miller shared personal anecdotes from Rounsavell’s efforts to restore the center’s historic building, which once served as the old Sylvan School house.
Miller described Rounsavell as persistent and resourceful, recalling his effort to erect a donated flag pole. Miller said Rounsavell took his approval of the idea as permission to build.
“I learned that if ‘Yes,’ ‘Ok,’ or ‘Great’ were in any sentence I told Jim, he’d probably take that as permission to plow ahead on his next project,” Miller said.
Jeanne Rounsavell said she worked with her late husband to operate the veterans center. She later cared for him during his final years of life.
“You lose your husband after 30-some years, you get kind of… you know,” she said as her voice trailed off. “And he was my partner, not only my husband. He was my partner, now he’s gone.”
Together, the Rounsavell’s have grown the veterans center into a place where they hope all veterans feel welcome.
“I hope, and I think they all like us,” she said. “Some don’t, but some do. They’re good people. I love this city.”
Rounsavell passed away on March 4, 2021, but his celebration of life was delayed due to the pandemic, and to give U.S. Representative Ami Bera an opportunity to honor the veteran. District Director Matthew Ceccato spoke for Bera who he said could not attend the event.
Ceccato spoke from his personal experience at the center, calling the it a place of refuge and sanctuary. Ceccato presented a resolution in Rounsavell’s honor that Bera plans to present in congress.
Rounsavell’s awards and mementos were displayed on a table outside for friends and family to view. There was a certificate for Ambassador for Peace Medal from Korea, an Agent of the Year award from United American Insurance Company, a home-built model of a hotel, and a certificate of recognition from President Joe Biden.
Among the items was a poster from Rounsavell’s run to become a state representative. His wife said he ran for office while living in Oregon.
“He didn’t win, but he tried. He could have made a big difference,” she said.
Rounsavell was a veteran of the Army Air Corps at the close of WWII, and later, the Air Force in Korea. His body was laid to rest earlier this year at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, in Dixon.