Gleason Dedicates Memorial Wall at Mike Snider Park
The long awaited Memorial Wall at Mike Snider
Park was dedicated on Saturday, September 2nd as
part of the 2017 Tater Town Special festivities.
The wall, sponsored by the Gleason Downtown
Revitalization Program under the leadership of President,
Charles Anderson received initial approval by the Gleason
Board of Mayor and Alderman on April 14th, 2016.
As initially conceived, this wall was seen as
a way of remembering the rich history of Gleason as it
relates to the people who have lived here since its
founding. It was seen as a way of allowing cherished family
members, civic, business and educational leaders, along with
other outstanding citizens of Gleason to receive the
recognition they deserve for their contributions to the
Gleason community over the years.
Representatives of the Gleason Downtown
Revitalization Committee and the Gleason Rotary Club
participated in a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday, May
The location of the wall is near the main
walkway to the park, in the vicinity of the children's play
area. The wall is some 80 feet in length, with landscaped
brick flower boxes on each end and in the center of the
wall. The center flower box features a 40-foot tall flagpole proudly
flying a large 8' by 12' American flag.
Special sections above the flower boxes at
each end of the wall each contain 108 Black Granite
Memorial Stones (approximately 4 x 7 inches in size) that
serve to remember family members and others who have made
significant contributions to the Gleason community over the
years or who have, in one way or the other, provided
significant support for the wall. A smaller section in the
middle of the wall is reserved for Memorial stones for those
who have served in the military.
As President Charles Anderson has frequently
noted here and on other occasions, the success of this
project was, in large part, due to the support of both the
Gleason business community and the support of Gleason
He has noted that the Boral Brick Company of
Gleason provided some 8,000 bricks for the construction of
the wall and that concrete for the foundation of the wall
was provided by Gleason Clay Company.
In addition to this important support from
Gleason businesses, the construction of this wall was also
made possible due to the contributions of skilled Gleason
residents who freely donated their time and talent to this
Notable in this regard was Gleason resident
Darrell Bell who took the primary role in laying the brick
for the wall from the beginning to the end of its
construction; David Hopper also contributed to this effort
during the early stages of this process. Darrell also did
all of the brick work for the new Mike Snider Park sign that
is located across from the Gleason Community Center, on the
road leading to the park.
Another who also donated his time and skills
to the completion of the wall was Ross Chandler. Mr.
Chandler, owner of Gleason’s Performance Steele was
responsible for helping put together the 40 foot flagpole
and attaching the ropes and other
internal equipment necessary to raise and lower the flag. He
then used an auger to dig the 4-foot hole containing the
large metal underground sleeve, designed to secure and
stabilize the flagpole. Using heavy equipment he then raised
the flagpole and positioned it so the area around the
underground sleeve could be firmly set in place with
concrete. Early on, a number of other Gleason
residents were also involved in preparing to lay the
foundation for the wall and for the concrete work that was
Also noteworthy is the large number of
citizens of Gleason and various community groups that
supported this endeavor by purchasing memorial stones to
honor family members as well as other individuals who have
made significant contributions to this Gleason community
over the years and deserve being remembered.
The formal dedication of the wall began with
some initial welcoming remarks, by President Anderson, and
an opening prayer which was offered by Chief of Police, Jeff
This opening was followed by the National
Anthem, sung by Mr. Charles Ross with Keith Dunning also
providing a beautiful rendition of God Bless the USA.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Caitlin
and Connor Cook and a tribute to the Military and those in
Uniform, was presented by Mr. Steve Jones.
This was followed by additional remarks by
President Anderson, where he dealt in somewhat more detail
with the early beginnings of the wall and expressed his
appreciation for those businesses and individuals whose
contributions made this wall a reality.
Midway through the dedication the crowd was
treated with two low pass flyovers of an AirEvac Helicopter.
The next presenter, Jim Johnson, drew
attention to the Flagpole and American Flag located in the
middle section of the wall and the inscription on the
plaque in front of the flagpole which reads: “Dedicated to the City of Gleason, in Memory
of James B. (JB) Johnson (1911 – 1957) and Sally A. Johnson
(1924 – 2004) by Jim, Gary, and David Johnson.
He indicated that both parents loved the City
of Gleason and were actively involved with the Gleason
community, his mother having been a member of the Gleason
chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, and a Sunday
school teacher at First Baptist Church, and his father
having been an Assistant Cashier at the Bank of Gleason, a Member of First Baptist Church
of Gleason, the Gleason Masonic Lodge,
Commander of the Gleason American Legion Post and a Veteran
of World War II.
Sadly, J.B. Johnson died at age
45, four months after having surgery for a malignant brain tumor.
Not having insurance, due to a prior medical condition, no
other income apart from his job, and
being unable to work after the surgery, the family was in a
very difficult situation financially.
Thankfully, the good people of Gleason were
there for the family, in many ways, during that difficult time
- as is so often the
case, when people of Gleason are in need. In this instance, Mr. Bob
Owen, Mr. M.E. Fanning, and Mr. Carl Parks (who at that time
was President of the
Bank of Gleason) got together and somehow were able to work things out so that the
Bank was able to assist the family financially during the
four months J.B. lived after the surgery.
After several months, when Sally decided that the family needed to
move to Michigan where her family lived and
there was no money for the move, Mr. Claude Steele came to
the house one day and generously offered
to use one of his Sweet Potato trucks to move the family to
Michigan. He did what he said he would do - refusing to take a
cent for the move.
Jim indicated that these two examples, along with many other acts of kindness
that were shown by others during this difficult time,
not only represent how caring and supportive the people of
Gleason were back in the middle to late 1950’s but
how caring and supportive they still are today – when
friends and neighbors are in need. This kind of caring for others,
makes Gleason the type of town that people want to raise
their children in and the kind of town that, even if they move
away for whatever reason, they often choose to return!
The final event of the dedication ceremony
was presented by Jim Phelps and 5 members of Rolling Thunder
who nicely illustrated the “Missing Man” ceremony, in a way
that would touch the heart of any patriotic American.
The Missing Man Ceremony is one
which remembers and honors those soldiers who are
missing-in-action and very poignantly conveys that the
military will always honor their service, their sacrifice
for our freedom, that soldiers left behind on the battle
fields in foreign lands will never be forgotten, and that
attempts to find them and bring them home are never-ending.
The dedication of the wall was
concluded with a heart-felt Benediction by Mr. Jacky Esch, a
long-time honored resident of Gleason and one who has been a
valued contributor to the work of the Gleason Downtown