When Dr. Thomas Williams and his late wife, Lowell, donated money to fund the purchase of a statue of a World War II soldier for Memorial Park in Grandview Heights, their mission was clear.
"When we did the statue, we thought it would be a great addition to the park and help make it a more meaningful place," Williams said.
The 77th annual Blue Star Mothers Memorial Day service held May 24 in the park included a groundbreaking ceremony for an addition to the site to bring that mission into even sharper focus.
Williams has donated another $300,000, a sum that, combined with funding from the city and village of Marble Cliff, will result in the installation of five 10-foot columns, each representing a branch of the military. The front of each column will be adorned with the emblem and motto of the respective military branch, while the back will feature a word representing a vision of service, Mayor Ray DeGraw said.
A plaza with brick pavers and lined with blocks of limestone will be installed between the columns, and the plaza also will feature the silhouette of a weeping soldier.
"This park holds a special place in our city," DeGraw said. "It's where we come to honor the 62 members of the Grandview and Marble Cliff community who gave their all in service to their country.
"These enhancements will help make an even more appropriate place to reflect and pay tribute," he said.
The park is located between Northwest Boulevard and Second Avenue, just west of Oxley Road.
Williams said he is pleased with how well the statue, which was installed in 2015, has been received by the community.
"I don't think there's any other small community in our area that has a memorial like this," he said. "It should put other communities to shame and encourage them to create their own memorial.
"But I was still concerned that it wasn't enough -- that the statue by itself didn't draw enough attention to the park and the special purpose it has," Williams said.
Along with the groundbreaking, the May 24 memorial service included its traditional elements, including Marble Cliff Mayor Kent Studebaker telling the history of the Blue Star Mothers; a memorial salute by the Reynoldsburg VFW Post 9473 Color Guard; and bagpipe music by Jeff Linn of Highland Pipes.
Avani Kumar, Grandview Heights High School senior class and student council president, read the roll call of the 62 community members who died in military service. Members of Boy Scout Troop 73 placed a poppy on a cross as each name was read.
A dedication ceremony for the additions to Memorial Park is expected to be held on Veterans Day in November.