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Commander Lane Breathes New Life into VFW Post 7272

Aug 30, 2021 06:00AM ● By David Dunbar

Bellingham VFW Post 7272 function room

story & photo by Dave Dunbar, Contributing Writer

“It’s not your grandfather’s VFW anymore,” said Tom Lane, the new commander of the Bellingham post on South Main Street. “No more smoke-filled bar-room with a drunk or two hanging out.”

“I’ve always been an incredible optimist,” Lane continued, “but running this post is the biggest task of my life.” Members elected him, and he started as commander on June 12. “Somebody had to do it,” smiled Lane.

The Bellingham VFW Post 7272 has about 120 members. The mission of the national VFW organization, as well as the local posts across the country, is to help veterans of foreign wars who are in distress and engage with their local communities. The post was established in Bellingham in 1966.

Lane has presided over a sprucing up of the property (inside and out). All the work is being done by volunteers and supported by local businesses. Since COVID struck, the post had been in a downward spiral but is now showing promising signs of new life.

“Cruise Night”—started around the end of July by Lane—is on Monday evenings and is attracting crowds to see dozens of cars on display (with their proud owners). Cruise Night is free, and if you have an old car you’d like to show, then come on down!

“It has been a huge success,” said Lane, who invites people to “come have a beer and a burger, and check out the cars.”

He has also introduced “Bike Night” on Tuesdays and plans to form a Corn Hole league. He is on the lookout for activities that will appeal to current members and attract new ones.
The bar, with its low-priced beer and mixed drinks, is a principal money-maker for the post. Lane has plans to use the 1,600-square-foot “hall” to generate more income by renting the space to businesses and individuals looking for inexpensive places to hold meetings, family events, group dinners and other activities.

“Let’s identify some Gold Star families in our area who have lost a loved one in combat,” explained Lane, “and throw a nice party for them in the hall.” He would also like to honor a “Teacher of the Year” as well as a “Boy Scout and Girl Scout of the Year.”

Lane stays in touch with his members through a monthly emailed newsletter, the post’s Facebook page, and the website, which you might want to visit. He also hosts monthly member meetings at the post.

For almost 10 years, he was a Machinist Mate in the U.S. Navy. He has invented a throttle control for motorcycles which he sells all over the world. For 35 years Bellingham has been home, where he lives with his wife, Joan. They have three grown children, three grandchildren and one great grandchild. In December, Lane will be 75 years old.

As post commander, he oversees all activities and approves all expenditures. He spends about 20 hours a week in his role and is assisted by quartermaster John Ansell, who is “in charge of every asset belonging to our post.”

Lane is eager to welcome new members to the post—“Become a member and help vets less fortunate than yourself.” You can contact him by email at [email protected] or by calling the post at 508-883-9538.

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