Donors are wanted for the re-creation of one of the most dramatic war memorials in the Akron area.
The University of Akron estimates it will cost $75,000 to erect a World War II memorial on the site where those killed in Vietnam, Korea and World War I already are memorialized in a grassy area east of Bierce Library on campus. So far, no money has been raised for the project.
More than three years after several granite plaques inscribed with the names of more than 1,500 Akron service members killed in World War II were removed from Memorial Hall, the plaques remain in storage and are not on display on campus.
Memorial Hall, where UA and area high school basketball teams played games, and students took physical education classes for decades during the building’s 57-year history, was demolished in 2010. A new education building is to be erected on the site of the old Memorial Hall but construction is on hold, UA officials said.
The athletic facility built in 1953 was named Memorial Hall in honor of those who died in World War II.
Ted Curtis, vice president capital planning and facilities management at UA, said the new memorial, when it is funded, will include a nautilus-shaped colored concrete paving pattern with the WWII plaques as well as new medallions depicting key allied victories.
“We had hoped to utilize campus implementation funds from our New Landscape for Learning bonds, however those monies ran out, and according to the bond underwriting rules and regulations, we may not have been able to use that money at all,” Curtis said.
The Korean War Memorial on campus was dedicated on Veterans Day 2001. The building of the memorial was led by Korean War veteran Tom Blair and cost about $160,000.
A plaque listing the names of more than 300 who died in World War I and a small plaque dedicated to UA students who died in Vietnam, given by the class of 1971, are located at the memorial site near Bierce Library.
“Our thoughts were this memorial design would be completed before now, however, it appears the economic conditions tell us otherwise,” Curtis said. “We had hoped that this project would have been completed by now.”
That, he said, “does not even appear on the horizon at this time.”
Curtis said he has received calls and letters from friends and family members who lost loved ones in WWII and whose names are on the plaques.
“They expressed great appreciation that the plaques will be preserved and re-erected some day,” he said.
Donations can be sent to: University of Akron Foundation, Memorial Hall Veterans Plaques, Akron, OH 44325-2603.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.