Man repays Red Cross 52 years later

Sunday, June 12, 2005

WORCESTER, Mass. -- It took 52 years, but Andy Karlson's conscience is finally clear.

On Tuesday, Karlson, 95, fulfilled a promise to repay the American Red Cross the $7,500 it gave his family to rebuild after a devastating tornado in 1953.

"I owe the Red Cross something. It's really very little," he said at a ceremony at the organization's new Worcester headquarters.

Jeffrey Karlson said his father is a man of modest means. "I think the fact that he gave the Red Cross the $7,500 is testament to how much it meant to him," the son said.

Andy Karlson, a longtime teacher, recalled that he, his wife, daughter and Jeffrey were driving home from Springfield on June 9, 1953, when they saw the storm.

They returned to an "awful sight." Two other sons were seriously injured.

"All we had left was an empty cellar hole," Karlson said.

Without the Red Cross grant, Andy Karlson said, the family would have been "out in left field without a portfolio, as they say."

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