Life of adventure: Delmar Calvert – fencing master

May 2017 Posted in Community

DelmarBy Michael Turner

Driving past the Mount Angel Towers, it’s hard not to wonder about the multitude of stories inside this sprawling retirement community. All of us have a story to tell, and one day I stopped by to see if anyone would be interested in talking with me.

I end up spending a sunny spring afternoon with Delmar Calvert, who, at 92, has a youthful sparkle of mischief in his eyes and a French accent that reveals he did not grow up around here.  

“I grew up very fast,” he said. “I’m really a born composer of music. For years, I walked around having symphonies or sonatas or operas going in my mind.” 

But music took a back seat to a life of adventure. 

At age three, he moved with his family from California to Paris, and then Tunisia, in North Africa, where he would enlist in the French Foreign Legion at age 14. 

The next year Hitler invaded France.  

Delmar would go on to join the U.S Army and become a resistance fighter with the Office of Strategic Serves, the first incarnation of the CIA. 

Later in life, he would return to France to be decorated – among the youngest Knights of the Legion of Honor.    

As an aside, he mentions that he studied music composition in Chicago and recently was inducted into the fencing hall of fame. He studied fencing in the French army. After the war ended he “made his living with the sword,” coaching national and international fencing champions. 

Delmar tells me that if he has a message for the next generation, it is to seek out experiences beyond the normal pattern of your life. That this is how you become a passionate and tolerant person, he says.

Amidst the photographs, clippings, and elegant artwork around the room, a globe sits in the corner. I spin it around, this small world: Paris… Tunisia…
Mount Angel, Oregon.    

Delmar shares what he’s learned as part of Our Town: The Web Series produced by Real Light Films in cooperation with Mt. Angel Publishing, Inc. / Our Town. Watch the short documentary at: 

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