Idlewild veterans monument restored

'This type of project means a lot'

IDLEWILD — After more than nine decades of being out in the elements, the combined efforts of a few people from the community made the veterans monument at Oaklawn Cemetery look like new.

The large monument proudly stands near the roadside of the cemetery on Foreman Road in Idlewild, commemorating fallen heroes of all wars. The monument was dedicated on Aug. 18, 1929.

The project to restore the monument began earlier this year when Marilyn Burns, supervisor of Yates Township, contacted Lake County Veterans Service Officer Norm Zelony.

"I told Marilyn I could order a new headstone for individual veterans, but not a new monument for all vets," Zelony said. "The thought came to me, what if we do a partnership with Baldwin Schools, for students to assist a contractor? Marilyn had a donation of cash to hire a contractor."

By mid-October, everything came together for work on the monument to begin. Alongside contractor Jerry TenBrink and his son, Sean Penn, was Baldwin teacher and cross country coach Nicole McGahey, with two of her cross country team members Evan Wogatzke and Adam McClure.

"We will do the best we can to make it look nice, power washing the monument and getting it cleaned off," said TenBrink.

Penn, an army veteran who was with the military police, was honored to assist his dad with this project.

"This type of project means a lot," he said.

Local business areas also were generous to donate toward the cause, Zeloney added, with Baldwin Lumber Company donating concrete, and ACE Hardware donating paint and supplies as well.

Wogatzke, a junior, wasted no time chipping away loose paint and preparing the monument for repairs.

"I am glad I'm giving back to my community," he said.

In some rainy, cold weather, and other times on a nice fall day, the monument got cleaned, patched up and finally repainted, all with respect and love.

The project was completed before Veterans Day — a gleaming tribute to all heroes who sacrificed for the freedom of this country.