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Serving those who served

96-year-old WWII?vet gets special meal delivered by local restaurant after COVID-19 battle

World War II Navy veteran Rodger Johnson is pictured. Now 96 years old, Johnson served at the beaches of Normandy. Seventy-six years after the end of the war, he can now say he has defeated COVID-19 as well. Johnson currently resides at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette, where he was recently discharged from the COVID unit. He recently had a special meal delivered to him from The Delft Bistro in Marquette to celebrate. (Photo courtesy of Rodger and Peggy Swing)

MARQUETTE — Rodger Johnson has pretty much been through it all in life.

Just 96 years young, the World War II Navy veteran served at the beaches of Normandy in the D-Day invasion.

Johnson resides at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans, where he’s spent the last 13 months in quarantine under the state of Michigan’s extensive COVID-19 nursing home regulations.

Johnson survived Normandy, and 76 years after the end of the war, he can now say he survived COVID-19 as well.

According to his nephew and godson Rodger Swing, Johnson contracted the virus a few weeks ago, and was recently discharged from Jacobetti’s COVID unit.

The Delft Bistro along West Washington Street in Marquette is shown. The restaurant recently delivered a special meal to World War II Navy veteran Rodger Johnson after his battle with COVID-19. (Journal file photo)

What was the first thing Johnson wanted when he returned to his normal room? One of his favorite meals: liver and onions.

Swing, who resides in Illinois with his wife Peggy, said that’s when he started thinking of what Marquette-area restaurant to call.

“We were trying to find a way to perk him up,” he said. “He has no relatives in the (Upper Peninsula,) and we usually come to visit him twice a year, but we haven’t seen him in 15 months. I asked him if there was something I could order, and he was interested in liver and onions.”

Swing decided to try The Delft Bistro. The only pro

blem? While the Delft has many offerings, liver and onions isn’t on the menu.

Despite this conflict, there was zero hesitation from the Delft’s general manager Kelsey Weeder, executive chef Kris Stunkard and sous chef Marty White when Swing made the call to inquire.

“I talked to Kelsey and they don’t have (liver and onions) on their menu,” Swing said. “She let me talk to Kris, and a few days later, they said they were going out to get some liver, onions, salad fixings and dessert.”

Swing was ready to pay whatever price was asked of him, but the staff turned him down.

“I was ready to give (Weeder) my credit card to pay for the expenses, but she said it was a treat on them,” he said. “I think that was a great indication of how generous and kind the people in Marquette are.”

Weeder said she was humbled that the Swings thought of the Delft.

“We were excited that they thought of us,” she said. “At first, liver and onions seems like an odd request, but it’s a classic meal. We had the tools to do it, and we were able to source it locally and put it together.

“Despite these times, and a rough journey for Rodger (Johnson), we were happy that we were able to do something special and brighten his day with a special meal. We’re very happy to do that for someone who thought of us. He’s been through some impressive life challenges.”

Weeder emphasized that kindness should be at the forefront of daily life these days, as everyone has dealt with some sort of adversity over the last year.

“It feels good to be able to do something good,” she said. “We’ve all been through some sort of journey this past year with COVID and all of the changes. It’s fun for us to do something nice, too.”

The meal was delivered to Johnson April 1. According to Swing, Johnson reported the meal was hot, fresh and delicious.

“We really appreciate Rodger (Swing) who called us,” Weeder said. “We were flattered he thought of us to do something special.”

And if you’re wondering whether there’s a chance liver and onions will become a mainstay on the Delft menu, Weeder didn’t rule it out.

“Liver and onions is not something on our menu,” she said. “Who knows, maybe we’ll turn it into a special one of these days. It’s a classic favorite.”

The Delft Bistro is located at 139 W. Washington St. in downtown Marquette.

It is open from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The business is closed on Mondays.

For more information, visit www.thedelftbistro.com or call 906-273-2455.

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is rspitza@miningjournal.net.

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