Trip to nation's capital inspires proposal
Retired doctors offer to fund statue in honor of area military personnel who died in service
Two years ago, Grandview Heights resident Thomas Williams was "stunned" when he saw the Korean War Memorial while participating in a tour of Washington, D.C., sponsored by Honor Flight Columbus.
"It just hit me when I saw those big, 7-foot bronze statues of a patrol carrying their infantry weapons," he said. "It made such an impression on me. I couldn't get it out of my mind, but I didn't know what to do with it."
Now he knows.
Williams and his wife, Lowell, have offered to fund a statue for Grandview's Memorial Park to honor area residents who lost their lives in service to their country.
"We have a trust set up that we use whenever we make a charitable donation," he said. "We want to do something that would honor our heroes and give something back to the community."
The couple are retired physicians. Thomas Williams served on the city's board of health and as health commissioner and Lowell served on the Grandview school board, including a stint as board president.
"My family moved here in 1929 when I was 3," Thomas Williams said. "My brothers and I went through Grandview High School, and I've lived here ever since, except for a dozen years I was in the military and was getting my medical education.
"My wife and I moved back here and raised six children. It's a great community."
Williams' proposal is scheduled to be discussed at a parks advisory board meeting on Sept. 12.
"This project would just about wipe out our trust, but that's OK," Williams said.
"My wife and I are 87, 88 years old and so I guess we're just about wiped out ourselves," he said, chuckling.
Like the Korean War Memorial, Williams said he envisions a 7-foot tall statue for Grandview that would portray a infantry soldier carrying his rifle while on patrol.
"It would serve to represent all the military personnel who have lost their life in wartime," he said. "And those who we might lose in the future."
Williams said he has been in contact with Big Statues, a Provo, Utah, company.
"I don't have a contract with them yet, but the guy there tells me he has already been sketching some ideas for the statue," Williams said.
He said he would like to see the statue erected facing Northwest Boulevard, so that motorists could see it as they approach Memorial Park.
"First of all, I would want them to think about the sacrifice these people made for our freedom," Williams said. "But I also think the statue would be quite an addition to the community. To my knowledge, no other Columbus suburb has this kind of monument."
While he likes Williams' idea, Parks and Recreation Director Sean Robey said the layout of Memorial Park, including the location of trees on site, would complicate where the statue could be placed.
"I've just seen the basic drawings of what the statue might look like, but I think it would be a nice addition to Memorial Park, if we can sort through all the issues," he said.
After the parks board gives its OK, the statue proposal would then likely go to city council for its approval, Robey said.
Williams spoke about his idea at the Sept. 3 council meeting, and council members reacted positively.
Mayor Ray DeGraw said if everything works out, the statue could be erected in time for the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the park in May.