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Harry Colmery
Birth: Dec. 11, 1890
Braddock
Allegheny County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Aug. 23, 1979
Houston
Harris County
Texas, USA

Advocate for American Veterans. He was one of four children born to grocery store owner Walter S. Colmery and his wife Flora. He was an industrious young man working in his father’s store, delivering newspapers and later working for the Union Pacific Railroad. After high school, he graduated from Oberlin College in 1913; earned a degree from the law school at the University of Pittsburgh in 1916; and relocated to Utah, where he was admitted to the bar in 1917. His law career was interrupted with the outbreak of World War I in April 1917. During the war, he served in the Army Air Service as an instructor and pursuit pilot. Before his discharge in April 1919, he had accumulated 500 hours flying time. He then served as a captain in the Officers Reserve Corps, air service, for 10 years. On December 20, 1919, he married his college sweetheart Minerva Hiserodt; they had three children. The couple relocated to Topeka, Kansas where he started a practice law with John S. Dean. Since his military service during World War I had a huge impact on his life, he was an advocate for veterans for the rest of his life. He joined the American Legion and was involved at the local, state and national levels serving as the National Commander of the American Legion in 1936. His name became a “household word” because of his diligent work with veterans. As a member of the American Legion’s national legislative committee, he worked to change regulations to allow veterans to be treated at Veteran’s Hospitals for non-service related illnesses and to allow for the expansions of the veteran’s hospital system. During World War II, he was involved in the debate of how to assist the millions of veterans that would be returning to the work force at the end of the war. Many feared a return to the Great Depression with men and women who had served their country joining the ranks of the unemployed after they were discharged. He was credited with writing the original draft of the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, or the “G.I. Bill of Rights”. He wrote it longhand on hotel stationery and napkins while staying in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. It was introduced to Congress in January 1944. President Franklin Roosevelt, with Colmery witnessing the act, signed it into law on June 22, 1944. To date, more than 20 million veterans have utilized the G.I. Bill to ease their transition back into the civilian world with unemployment benefits up to one year, college tuition, vocational school or on-the-job training, and low interest rate mortgage. The Colmery-O'Neil Veterans Administration Hospital in Topeka, Kansas is named in honor of him. During his lifetime, he received many awards: The French Legion of Honor in 1936; Order of the Crown of Italy in 1936; Distinguished Service Medal, National Guard of Honor, Washington, D.C., and Philippines Legion of Honor in 1961; American Legion’s Distinguished Service Award in 1975; Kansas Bar Association’s Distinguished Service Award and Topeka Bar Association President’s Good Citizen Award in 1976. (bio by: Linda Davis) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Walter S. Colmery (1860 - 1943)
  Flora K. Colmery (1856 - 1921)
 
 Spouse:
  Minerva Hisertodt Colmery (1892 - 1956)*
 
 Children:
  Sarah Elizabeth Colmery Martin (1920 - 1985)*
  Harry Walter Colmery (1924 - 2014)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Mount Hope Cemetery
Topeka
Shawnee County
Kansas, USA
Plot: Section: Circle Lot : 25-B Space: 14
GPS (lat/lon): 39.04047, -95.73889
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Ginny M
Record added: Jun 21, 2002
Find A Grave Memorial# 6532531
Harry Colmery
Added by: Linda Davis
 
Harry Colmery
Added by: Ginny M
 
Harry Colmery
Added by: Ginny M
 
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- Linda Davis
 Added: Aug. 23, 2016

- JH
 Added: May. 27, 2015

- R. E. Wood
 Added: Sep. 19, 2014
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