Waukesha's Salvation Army leaders march onward

Majors Carol Lemirand (left) and her husband, Ron, of The Salvation Army of Waukesha, are being transferred to Marinette County in northeast Wisconsin in June. They have been with The Salvation Army of Waukesha since 2009.
Published on: 5/12/2014

People relocate for their jobs all the time, but Majors Ron and Carol Lemirand take this to another level.

As corps officers for The Salvation Army, Ron and Carol have been relocated seven times, with their most recent stop in Waukesha, beginning in 2009.

Make that eight transfers.

The Lemirands are ending their five-year stay here, moving on to lead The Salvation Army in Marinette County, about an hour northeast of Green Bay, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

"Being transferred is very typical in The Salvation Army," said Carol Lemirand, who has been affiliated with The Salvation Army with her husband for 37 years. "So we knew what we were getting into when we got called in. We just feel like this is an opportunity to do ministry there."

Salvation Army life

Transfers take place if a request is made by an officer looking to be closer to family or for health reasons. The officer in Marinette requested to leave and the Lemirands were selected to move there. The Lemirands grew up in Green Bay and have family about two hours west of Marinette in Wausau.

The Lemirands' five-year stint in Waukesha was typical of the time they've spent in other cities during their careers with The Salvation Army.

After completing training at The Salvation Army Training College in 1980 in Chicago, the Lemirands were appointed to Wichita, Kansas, for three years. They stayed in Kansas for their next three stays — first in Lawrence for three years, then Coffeyville for five and finally Salina for another five.

Their next stop was in Wisconsin — in Wausau for seven years, their longest tenure, before being transferred out of state to St. Joseph, Missouri, for six years. They returned to Wisconsin with their Waukesha transfer in early 2009.

The couple's last day serving Waukesha will be June 22 and will report to Marinette two days later.

"It's never easy because you make friendships and relationships and you sometimes forget how many exist," Carol Lemirand said. "It's impossible to take all of them with you."

Varied memories

While in Waukesha, moments that stick out for the Lemirands were when they were called to Oak Creek during the Sikh Temple shooting in 2011 and the shooting at the Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield a year later.

During these shootings, the Lemirands provided emotional and spiritual care as well as food and water to the victims' families. And during their time in Waukesha, they've also been called to assist during natural disasters such as the deadly tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri, in 2011.

The two were also responsible for leading the red kettle effort during the winters as well as numerous other programs throughout the county that make up The Salvation Army of Waukesha's $1.8 million budget. For their efforts, the two were recognized with a Key to the City award two years ago by former Mayor Jeff Scrima.

In with the new

Carol Lemirand said Waukesha's Salvation Army will be in good hands with its new leaders, Majors Nelson and Debra De La Vergne, who are coming from South Bend, Indiana.

"They'll be working with a wonderful staff who are very capable," Carol Lemirand said.

Carol Lemirand said it has felt like a "roller-coaster" in the last week after being told that they will be transferred. She said she just starting feeling like her connections within the county were growing stronger.

But as she said, the couple "marches on."

"There's an excitement about being in a new city and meeting new people," Carol Lemirand said.