Local veteran recovering from COVID-19 gets special 91st birthday surprise

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Four generations of Frank Gubala’s family gathered outside the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Saturday to wish the retired Holyoke Police officer a happy 91st birthday in a memorable fashion.

Because of the necessity for social distancing, Frank would observe the elaborate display of affection from a second-floor window at the home.

Frank would see some of his 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren in the parking lot Saturday to wish him well. They’re so grateful that unlike so many dozens of Soldiers’ Home residents who had succumbed to the coronavirus, Frank survived his infection and is on the way to full recovery.

“We’ve been talking to him on a daily basis, he seems to be doing pretty well,” Donna Saletnik, Frank’s daughter told 22News. “He has recovered I believe, they haven’t retested him but they have him up and about in a wheelchair.”

Holyoke police would also join in the happy birthday salute to one of their own. Behind the wheel of one cruiser Saturday, included Frank’s grandson, following him in his footsteps. Another grandson is a Holyoke firefighter.

Donna told 22News she salutes the cooperation of the Soldiers’ Home making her father’s birthday celebration possible.

“They let us have a cake, a little cake that we put at the doorstop with him and I got his favorite chips and a big bag of chocolates,” she said.

A gala 91st birthday celebration for retired Holyoke Police Officer Frank Gubala in a manner dictated by the times, as they hope that in the not too distant future, such birthdays will also be expressed complete with hugs and kisses.

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