Mees on right with the children of the Dutch family he stayed with. JENNIFER ELLAIR | COURTESY

This Sunday, Vet­erans Day, Hillsdale College faculty, staff, and stu­dents will remember friends and family members who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Here is the story of one college employee and her father, Donald Mees.


Sorting through a pile of pho­tographs and letters she’d gathered over the years, Jen­nifer Ellair, a Hillsdale College cus­todian who works in the sports complex, recently found some gems: Two letters and pho­tographs of her father, Donald Mees, from his time serving in World War II.

Born on April 27, 1918, in Ohio, Mees would have turned 100 years old last spring. He passed away on his birthday in 1991.

Mees served in the U.S. infantry in Germany and France during the war, Ellair said. While in Europe, he befriended and stayed with a Dutch family in Holland, who sent letters to his former wife and to him afterward. These are the ones Ellair still has.

“We con­grat­ulate you upon the return home of Donald,” one of the letters reads, written from one of the Ronekers to Mees’ wife at the time. “He is a good man and I believe a good husband too. What a joy for him, when he shall again see his wife and son.”

A post­script added that the family was expecting its 13th child. Mees always loved children and was a good father, Ellair remem­bered.

“He always encouraged me, told me I could do any­thing I wanted to do. He always was very encour­aging,” Ellair said.

“He was proud that he served and fought for our country, espe­cially when there was so much at stake over there,” she said. “And he was glad to help the people.”