When I visited Arthur and Nola Nagler at their West Palm Beach home at MorseLife, I immediately felt the couple’s warmth. The walls were covered with family photographs and paintings by artist Nola. It was a reflection of a happily married couple of 71 years who have spent their entire lives serving the community.
Ahead of Veterans Day (November 11), I asked 97-year-old Arthur to share details of his military career.
“I was drafted into the U.S. Army when I was 18 in 1943 and received my basic medical training at Camp Grant in Rockford, Illinois. At camp I underwent a specialized training program From Camp Grant, I went on to receive training as medical personnel at Providence College in Rhode Island, then was sent to Washington, D.C. for further training.I accompanied doctors and nurses on their rounds. , to absorb all the knowledge I could. I was trained as a surgical technician because the war was getting very bad in Europe and there was a need for medical personnel there.
Arthur continued: “I took a hospital ship across the Atlantic Ocean and landed in Liverpool, England. I served in General George S. Patton’s Third Army as a member of the surgical team that landed on Utah Beach in Normandy, France in October 1944. It was on this same beach that the invasion of D-Day occurred in June of the same year. During the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 (in Germany) I was wounded. After being sewn up and probably having had a small concussion, I resumed my duties as a surgical assistant nurse. I am most proud of the French Legion of Honor medal that France awarded me. After three years of service, I returned to my native Brooklyn.
I asked Arthur to think about the next stage of his life after returning from the war.
“I took over my father’s agricultural products business after he retired. A twist of faith brought me to Florida. Florida growers who had shipped their crops to us for distribution across the United States didn’t know what to do. The solution was to move to the uncivilized rural area known as The Glades in 1959 and create the Everglades Producers Cooperative. I was recruited to manage the cooperative. This primarily agricultural region located on the southeastern edge of Lake Okeechobee encompasses the towns of Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay.
“We were pioneers. We developed a Jewish community in a sleepy town where residents and farmers had always refused outside help and did not want to grow new things or expand. I knew if I was going to raise a family, we had to build.
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Arthur continued, “Ten Jewish families worked together to build a tight-knit community 40 miles from civilization. In The Glades, we (Jews) moved from tolerance to acceptance and respect. Everyone was looking at us. »
“I took on the leadership role because I wanted people outside the region to be aware of our needs. I served as president of the Pahokee Chamber of Commerce for an unprecedented three terms. We hosted a dinner and invited politicians and other officials, so we could discuss our plans. Politicians wanted the event to take place elsewhere. But I clearly wanted them to see that we had no roads to our community and little development. When government officials got energized and involved, Pahokee became a profitable town. I helped build and initiate Temple Beth Sholom at the Glades Jewish Community Center in Belle Glade and served as its president for over 40 years. I also helped build a hospital in the area that previously only had a first aid station.
I asked Arthur to share some of the accolades he has received for all of his accomplishments.
“I am a two-time recipient of the Glades Sales Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and as a member of Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach, I received the Federation of Clubs’ Man of the Year Award. Jewish men. Nola and I are also proud of our four daughters.
Concluding our conversation, I asked Arthur if he had anything to add?
“I never stop helping things grow. I created the Garden of the Living at Temple Beth El Hebrew School, which distributes crops to nursing homes and the elderly.
Thank you, Arthur, for sharing your accomplishments.