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

MADISON - Tony Evers wants to see Republicans and Democrats pass bills they both agree on.

He stressed it near the end of his first State of the State Address Tuesday night.

+ Read More

HURLEY - The Hurley School District will drop their Midget mascot.

School board members voted unanimously this week to stop using the name after this school year.

+ Read More

Play Video

LAND O' LAKES - People know Rhinelander for its Hodag, Eagle River for its World Championship Snowmobile Derby, and now Land O'Lakes wants to be known for one of its signature events.

"We'd like to be known as the sled-dog capital of Wisconsin, and possibly snow dog capital of the world," said Joe Lomastro.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - It can cost you a good chunk of change to hire someone to do your taxes. For some, that could mean pulling money from tax returns to do so.

The AARP Foundation's Tax Aide program is coming to Rhinelander to help with tax preparation for free.

The program's tax preparers will meet with people at the Rhinelander Oneida Senior Center to help prepare and e-file tax returns (Federal, State, and Homestead Tax Credits) beginning February 4th. 

Over last few years the Rhinelander site averaged about 500 returns at about $100 dollars per return. That equates to about $50,000 per year for these filers. 

+ Read More

Play Video

MADISON - "It begins, as it always has for me, with education," said Governor Tony Evers. 

As the former superintendent of Wisconsin schools, Gov. Evers placed a big emphasis on education in his State of the State address.

+ Read More

ANTIGO - Two men and a woman face several felony charges for a string of burglaries in Langlade Co.

Jason Behm, 37, Andrew Schroeder, 38, and Valerie Deangelis, 40 went before a judge for the first time on Wednesday.

They're accused of burglarizing five homes in Langlade Co. in the last several weeks, taking guns, jewelry, money, alcohol, and other items.

On Friday, police stopped a car in Oneida Co. with the three suspects inside. They found stolen property, meth, and drug items.

+ Read More

Play Video

BOULDER JUNCTION - A 59-year-old man died Wednesday morning after a head-on crash on Highway 51 in Boulder Junction.

Two full-size pickup trucks hit each other just after 10 a.m. near the intersection of Highway 51 and Bakken Road.

"[We] believe, from the crush of the impact, that that was a head-on, not a glancing or angled blow," said Vilas Co. Sheriff's Capt. Gerry Ritter on scene.

First responders used the "jaws of life" to take victims out of at least one truck. In addition to the man who died, two other people were taken to Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff for treatment.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: