LAKEMORE: And now there are two doughboys in Lakemore.
On Monday, after a Veterans Day ceremony at the Lakemore Memorial Triangle near the village’s new doughboy statue, an old friend returned — repaired and ready for duty.
In September 2008, a 3½-foot high zinc World War I statue called Resting Doughboy was stolen from Lakemore Memorial Park.
The statue, atop a 6-foot granite base, was dedicated in 1938 following its creation by artist E.M. Viquesney of Indiana.
Two weeks after it was stolen, the doughboy was found in Mogadore Reservoir, his head smashed, his left hand and most of his rifle missing, and legs broken off at the ankles.
A replacement doughboy made of bronze was placed at the Lakemore park on Memorial Day in 2009.
The original statue, which Army Navy Garrison 273 had purchased and installed in 1938, was kept in its damaged condition at the garrison building in Lakemore.
Garrison members James Critchfield and past Commander James Richards decided to attempt to repair it.
Nearly three years later, the statue was brought back to the garrison building on Main Street for a dedication ceremony after the village’s Veterans Day program.
Critchfield, 63, an Army veteran, said he and Richards, who died in April at the age of 67, as well as other garrison members and friends spent hundreds of hours welding and painting to restore the original statue.
“They said it couldn’t be fixed, and I liked the challenge,” Critchfield said.
He and others worked in his yard, often on his picnic table, he said, calling the restored statue “solid as a rock now.”
Critchfield said steel rods run the full length of the restored doughboy.
“You couldn’t get him off [his pedestal] if you wanted to,” he said.
Lakemore Mayor Rick Justice said the restored statue looks terrific.
“It is awesome,” he said. “They did a great job.”
Garrison Commander Jeff Gibson, 70, a Navy veteran, echoed the mayor’s feelings and said the statue will be kept inside the garrison building.
“We are here to honor our deceased comrades and shipmates,” Gibson said during the ceremony at the triangle in the village.
A welder by trade, Critchfield said he used his skills to make the doughboy look like new. He said the statue looks better than when it was stolen, noting that at that time the doughboy already showed some damage.
Critchfield grew up in Lakemore, as did his parents. As long as he can remember, the statue has been a fixture in the village.
“It grows on you,” he said.
The restoration work impressed former Lakemore police Chief Ken Ray, now a captain with the Springfield Township Police Department.
“I can’t believe how great it looks,” he said.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.