This is so sad.... Wish we could do something for him. All alone Rini Caudill The Chronicle-Telegram ELYRIA The plea was heartrending. Friend needed to talk to and visit with me in my home. Desperately need friendship and companionship. The tiny lines of black ink gave no clue, no details to explain how a life becomes so desolate a person would place an ad for a friend in the Help Wanted section. A phone number 323-0966 was listed. Dennis Sprouse is 70. He lives with the help of oxygen tanks and walks with a cane. He is all alone in his apartment. He misses life. Im just a tired, depressed man. Im lonely, he said, watching a black and white war movie from his living room recliner. I practically live in this chair. His most constant companion these days is Jesus. I ask Him to just send me somebody, a friend, somebody I could talk to, pray with, he said. So far, He hasnt answered. Once there was life, lots of it. He grew up on a dairy farm in Sandusky, then served in two branches of the military the Army and the Navy. He fought in Korea, was shot in the stomach at the Choisin Reservoir and was awarded a Silver Star for bravery. I remember what I got the star for, I just dont want to talk about it, he said. We lost six men that day. I always blamed myself for that, but people tell me I helped save the others. A car accident more than a decade ago broke his legs and his back, stealing his mobility. A chronic respiratory infection steals his breath, tethering him to oxygen. He used to love golfing and dancing and all kinds of music except that rap and heavy metal. I dont get that. He proudly points to his collection of LPs that range from classical to Gershwin to musical scores. He loved to play rummy and pinochle. I was big time; I was the life of the party. Id get people to dance. He has thought about buying a game system so he could still play golf from his recliner, but Social Security doesnt stretch to fit such a luxury. By the time I get around to paying my rent and my utilities, I dont have a hell of a lot left. He likes to read, especially murder mysteries and detective stories. He likes movies about war and gangsters, but not romance. I dont like those lovey-doveys they show on TV. Most of em dont make no damn sense to me. The outside edges of his world starting shrinking while he was still a child. He was born in Steubenville, and lived a few doors down from a scappy boy named Dino. Dino grew up to be Dean Martin. Dennis Sprouse grew up to be lonely. He was one of nine children. The family moved to Lorain when his father was transferred to the steel mill there, then National Tube. But his mother died when he was very young, and his father was forced to split his children up between relatives because he couldnt raise them alone. Sprouse went to live with an aunt and uncle, separated from his siblings and his father. He had friends, once. He was a member of several local veterans organizations. He worked at National Tube for a while, then worked at a series of jobs as a laborer until retiring in 1986. He was even married but it ended recently after nearly 30 years. My wife is gone, is all hell say. He has no children. All of his siblings, except one brother who lives in Florida, are deceased. Theres an old saying, Out of sight, out of mind. If they dont see you, they forget you. He keeps a yellow calendar taped to the wall next to his chair to remind me what day it is. A handful of Christmas cards are still hanging from a wall next to his tiny kitchen. A neighbor checks on him and runs errands for him. A visiting nurse comes occasionally. Sometimes the pastor of the church around the corner will come and get him and take him to a service. He used to attend a Presbyterian church in Lorain before his disabilities took even that away. His ad earlier this month generated a few calls; only one person came, but he never returned. He doesnt want his picture in the paper; he doesnt want his old acquaintances to see him the way he is now. Im a young 70. People used to tell me I act like Im 50, he said. Im not cranky. Ive had people tell me Im disgustingly quiet and polite. The worst part of this is, Im so lonely. Sometimes I just sit here and cry, he said, looking away. I shouldnt have told you that. A mans not supposed to do that. But even with all this, I feel blessed because I know God is here with me, helping me through this, he said. I put everything in Gods hands. I have to trust in Him, its all I can do.