Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Merrill barber helps create veterans section, memorial in cemeterySubmitted: 05/24/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com

Merrill barber helps create veterans section, memorial in cemetery
MERRILL - In the upper-right corner of a concrete slab, LeRoy Fischer looks with pride and awe at his name etched in stone next to family and friends.

"I never thought it would get this big," Fischer said.

Nearly 1,000 paver stones with names of veterans from all across Lincoln County form the basis of a memorial in St. Francis' section of Merrill's Memorial Cemetery dedicated to anyone who served.

"We're all one and united," Fischer said of all veterans, whether they served in wartime or not.


The idea for the memorial in the cemetery started in 2011 with a cannon. Fischer, who served in the U.S. Army in the early 1960s, wanted to place the century-old gun in the cemetery. Father Michael McLain suggested he do more and build an entire veterans section.

"I said to him, 'Do you realize how much it's going to cost to do that?'" Fischer recalled. "And he said, 'You've got a lot of friends.'"

Father McLain donated the space for hundreds of graves while Fischer -- who's known around town for his barbershop -- started fundraising. Fischer linked up with fellow veteran Steve Sabatke to sell and carve the veterans stones. Those sales helped pave the way for the memorial and upkeep of the grave sites.

"This is just one of the ways in which the church can reach out to people," Father Chris Kemp said.

Father Kemp took over St. Francis and the responsibility for maintaining the cemetery when McLain died in 2015. Kemp knows what Fischer helped create brings people to the cemetery to grieve or simply reflect.

"Some of them will look at the names on the stones and some of them will walk around at the grave markers... Just helps out people in that way," Kemp said.

But it's one marker in particular: Army veteran Michael Zuelsdorff's which brings Fischer to the cemetery regularly.

"Yeah, it hurts," Fischer said, pausing to collect himself.

Zuelsdorff, who is Fischer's grandson, committed suicide in 2012 after struggling with PTSD following tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Zuelsdorff's grave was the first one placed in Fischer's new veterans section.

"I feel I've done my job to help get it going and now... It is something that will probably be remembered for years," Fischer said.

For now, there is room for many more veterans to rest alongside his grandson. There are about 780 spaces for veterans and their spouses when cremation sites are included. The church says it will expand as needed.

Sabatke tells Newswatch 12 he's looking for someone to map out where each name is on the engraved stones at the memorial.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

PARK FALLS - In the past, people in Park Falls couldn't always get access to a doctor when they needed one for minor injuries and illnesses. But Flambeau Hospital recently added a new program to change that.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - Trig Solberg's company won't give in easily in its attempt to pump, truck, and bottle drinking water from Presque Isle.

The Carlin Club has filed an appeal in Vilas County Circuit Court.

It wants permission to transport 18,000 gallons of drinking water a day from a well near Carlin Lake.

Solberg, the owner of Trig's supermarkets, is also involved with the Carlin Club case.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK - Law enforcement throughout Wisconsin are stepping up patrols in an effort to prevent drunk driving during the last stretch of summer.

Tomahawk Police officers like Ryan Picl have been working extra hours as part of the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.

"Even if you're buzzed, you're still drunk," said Picl. "Some people handle alcohol differently than other people."

The campaign started last Friday and goes until September third.
Chief Al Elvins says the campaign is a great way to decrease the number of drinking and driving deaths in Wisconsin.

"Usually the last batch of summer is Labor Day, so we're trying to educate people," said Elvins. "Last year there were 161 fatalities in the state of Wisconsin and 3,000 injuries caused by impaired driving."

+ Read More

WAUSAU -
Police in Wausau search for a suspect after a shooting Monday night.

Just after 9:00 p.m., police and paramedics were called to the area of Short Street and North 3rd Street in Wausau.

+ Read More

WAUWATOSA - Clean-up crews were on the scene of a freight train derailment in Wauwatosa Tuesday.

Thirteen cars jumped the track Monday night.

A flyover of the area shows cars on their side allowing sand to spill out onto the ground.

Police say none of the cars contained hazardous materials.

+ Read More

MADISON - Dive teams and emergency workers search for a man swept away in floods after heavy rain in the Madison area.

The National Weather Service says around a foot of rain fell in some spots in western Dane County.

+ Read More

MADISON - A liberal advocacy group says Republican Gov. Scott Walker used the state airplane to make 869 flights since he dropped out of the presidential race in September 2015, including 11 trips of less than 64 miles.

One Wisconsin Now compiled public records on flight data to release the findings Monday. The flights between September 2015 and April cost taxpayers about $818,000.

Walker had no immediate comment.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here