Whether he was making sure Santa did not overlook needy children or was sharing his dog with nursing home residents, Ivan Pavlin was committed to helping others.
Pavlin's lifetime of service included working as a military intelligence officer during the Korean and Vietnam wars. The retired Army Colonel received two Bronze Stars and several other medals during his 22-year military career.
A Bradenton Beach resident for nearly three decades, Pavlin died September 10,2008, at 75. His six-month battle with cancer of the mouth and throat may have been caused by Agent Orange he was exposed to in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, his family said.
Not long after retiring from the Army in 1979, Pavlin moved to Manatee County, Florida, and co-founded the Adopt-A-Family of Manatee County in 1982.
The nonprofit agency, which helped about 200 low-income families receive Christmas gifts its first year, served more than 1,600 families last year, including 4,500 children.
Pavlin worked several months each year helping the charity set up its temporary workshop in vacant retail space, matching families with anonymous donors and helping distribute the gifts.
“Knowing that these kids would have a happy Christmas brought a lot of joy to him,” said his son, Matt, of Bradenton Beach.
The elder Pavlin maintained a leadership role in the organization even while caring for his wife, who learned she had cancer in 1984 and died two years later, leaving Pavlin to raise their four children, ages 9 to 17, on his own.
He also worked for more than a decade with the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, the predecessor of the Department of Children and Families, and volunteered on Bradenton Beach's Planning and Zoning Board.
“He was constantly busy and had that caregiver personality,” his son said. “He was always taking care of other people.”
Over the years, he donated more than 13 gallons of blood to the local blood bank and shared his dog, Zarah, with people in area rehabilitation centers and nursing homes.
Born December 21, 1932, in the Chicago area, he attended the University of Illinois and the Army's War College and spoke seven languages.
In addition to his son, he is survived by two other sons, Mark of Dunwoody, Georgia, and Luke of Bernardsville, New Jersey; a daughter, Kristin, of Houston; a sister, Doris Lenz, of Longwood; and a granddaughter.
A visitation was held last week. He will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on December 4, 2008.
Memorial donations may be made to TideWell Hospice and Palliative Care, 3355 26th St. W., Bradenton, Florida 34205, or the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, P.O. Box 4486, Houston, Texas 77210-4486.
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard