DUNEDIN — The front of Roy Livingstone's home firmly establishes his priorities. An American flag, lit at night, flanks the garage.
Visitors walk over a doormat that announces, "Patriots Welcome."
Inside on Wednesday, his relatives watched Fox News on low and talked about the man who served as an example for many with unwillingness to forget what he had undergone for his country.
If anyone has earned the right to count himself a patriot, it was Mr. Livingstone, who died April 7 at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center. He was 88 and suffered from lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
A prisoner of war for two years in Germany, Mr. Livingstone later served as director of the former Military Ex-Prisoners of War Foundation.
"I went to some of his national meetings," said Korean war veteran Dave Theall. "He was very much appreciated."
As a former sports correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times, Theall also covered the former advertising executive's nearly single-handed efforts to create an association for senior golf players and as publisher of a national magazine for senior golfers.
"Around age 75, he could shoot his own age," Theall said. "Not too many guys can do that."
Roy Edward Livingstone was born in Maine. One Christmas, his father was too impoverished to buy presents for his two boys. So with some embarrassment he built them miniature Morse code transmitters and taught them how to use them.
The knowledge came in handy after April 17, 1943, when Mr. Livingstone, a flight engineer in the Army Air Corps on a B-17 bomber, was shot down over Bremen, Germany, taking a bullet in the leg as he parachuted down. Other than a two-week escape, the soldiers' stay at Stalag-17B was far from pleasant. "He did say, 'It was nothing like Hogan's Heroes,' " said his wife, the former Dorris Holliday.
His knowledge of Morse code helped him communicate with other prisoners and the BBC, his family said. His unit was liberated in May 1945.
Mr. Livingstone moved here in 1976. His first wife, Grayce, died in 1991. In 1999, he met Holliday, the widow of a former POW, at a POW convention. They married in 2000.
She liked his romantic side, but winced when he insisted on doing some Valentine's Day shopping in February, a time he could not breathe without difficulty.
"The valentines he wanted to get had all been picked over," she said.
Just as they were about to leave the store, her husband noticed a piece tucked in a corner — a hollow silver heart, with structural connectors that looked as through they could be pumping blood.
She wears it proudly.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or [email protected]