Veteran, 97, Booted From Senior Home

He thinks his ukulele playing may have been partially to blame

By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 21, 2014 1:40 PM CDT
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(Newser) – Until a couple weeks ago, 97-year-old Jim Farrell was entertaining fellow residents at a Napa Valley senior living facility, filling the halls with the sounds of his ukulele strums and singing, reports KTVU. But the veteran of three wars was reportedly asked to leave the Redwood Retirement Residence after he couldn’t keep his room as clean as staff wanted him to and couldn’t afford the $1,500 cleaning fee they charged for someone else to do it. He ended up living first in local motels, then in a nearby homeless shelter. "Watching him walk into an environment that no older person should ever have to be in … was wrenching my heart," says a senior advocate who has been helping Farrell. Last week, though, a stranger who heard his story helped Farrell get into another assisted living facility.

A statement from Redwood's parent company indicates that the veteran was told in February that his apartment was a health hazard, and that he had started to act aggressively. But Farrell himself thinks there may have been an additional impetus behind his eviction: his constant ukulele playing. "Management continually suppressed my talents," he tells KPIX 5. "Management would stop me and say … ‘Go back to your room!'" Farrell can now channel his best Don Ho in his new digs; an anonymous donor took care of payments through the end of July, and Farrell’s veteran’s benefits (and donations from local residents who’ve heard about his plight) will reportedly cover him after that. (Meanwhile, in Ohio, a veteran has been cited for his 14 "therapy ducks.")

A 97-year-old vet says his retirement home kicked him out for his ukulele playing.
A 97-year-old vet says his retirement home kicked him out for his ukulele playing.   (Shutterstock)
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