Donated stove helps elderly vet pass Section 8 inspection

UPDATE: Bill Quigley told Eyewitness News on Friday that he passed Section 8 inspection with the help of a new stove, donated by Urner's Appliance Center.

Thursday's story about the stove delivery and outpouring of support, are below.


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Volunteers stepped forward Thursday to help a local veteran stay in his home. The help included the gift of brand new gas range, which should certainly pass the required inspection for Section 8 housing assistance.

It's help in the nick of time, and the vet is very grateful, he said.

An Urner's Appliance Center truck unloaded the new stove, and workers installed it in Bill Quigley's small, central Bakersfield apartment. If his apartment didn't pass Friday's re-inspection, Section 8 would no longer provide assistance there, and Quigley would have been forced to move.

The 82-year-old vet sat in his scooter and watched the stainless steel stove get wheeled in.

"You fall in a hole, you don't have a ladder, you don't know how you're going to get out," Quigley mused. "And all of a sudden, you're getting calls. One came from Lake Isabella!"

Eyewitness News first reported his problem in late May when he faced a deadline because the stove provided by the landlord had only three working burners. Viewers immediately called with offers to help. Chris Stille is a supervisor with a major utility, and he showed up the next day to fix the stove.

But, that range was so badly damaged it couldn't be adequately repaired. About a week later the landlord brought out a replacement stove. Again, only three burners worked. And again, Stille tried -- but that stove also couldn't be adequately repaired. Housing Authority of Kern County director Stephen Pelz tells Eyewitness News a unit must have appliances that "function as they're designed" in order to pass inspection to qualify for Section 8 vouchers.

The next re-inspection of Quigley's apartment is set for Friday, June14.

Urner's spokesman David Perkins had contacted Eyewitness News after our first report. When the two attempts at repairs didn't work out, the company was ready to step in.

"I walked into my boss' office yesterday to ask him about it. He goes, 'I'm already on it, I've picked out a stove, it's already on the dock wrapped up, ready to go. Get him taken care of,'" Perkins said. "He just wants to make sure this guy has a happy ending."

That starts with the new stove. Two Urner's technicians pulled out the old range, and set it near the landlord's storage room. In less than 30 minutes the new one was installed, and all the burners fired up.

Five burners, in fact. The new stove also has a griddle. "Wow, I get a griddle?" Quigley said. He was an Air Force cook when he served in the Korean War. He's ready to cook again, and couldn't quite decide if he'd make potato pancakes or baked spaghetti as his first dish.

Quigley says he's been overwhelmed by the generous offers to help him. "I thought it was great, I'm shocked, I'm still surprised," he said

Housing Authority officials tell Eyewitness News the stove donated by Urner's will be Quigley's property.

He's lived in the apartment for 14 years. He wasn't up to moving, and doubted he could come up with the money to get into a new apartment.

Quigley thanked the crew from Urner's and all the people who reached out to help him. Just today he said a woman from Tehachapi showed up with a $300 gift card for the grocery store in his neighborhood.

Perkins said the fact that Quigley's a veteran is probably part of the reason for the community's generosity, but Kern County always comes through for people in need.

Quigley said he's very grateful.

"It's great, I think it's great," Quigley said. "I appreciate everything that you folks did. If I didn't call you, I don't know where I'd be."