The Century Walk Corporation

City appreciates veterans via art

November 12, 2006 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Meg Dedolph

In a ceremony with band music, a moment of silence and an appearance by the city's Lima Lima airplane squadron, the city dedicated its newest piece of public art, honoring five of its veterans.

The statues of Don Darfler, Leo Kuefler, Vinnie Mazza, Al Rubin and Bob Wehrli are at the corner of Washington Street and Van Buren Avenue.

The men - all born and raised in Naperville - fought in World War II and are all decorated veterans.

Kuefler and Mazza are the only two still alive. Kuefler lives in Naperville, while Mazza is a North Carolina resident.

Naperville Mayor George Pradel said, at the Saturday-morning ceremony, that he thought the art had been placed in an especially apt spot.

"The people represented here were in the vicinity of this area where they lived and grew up," he said. "We had a bowling alley here where I bowled, and I'm sure they did the same thing."

He said he was proud of the city's veterans.

"We are free here because many of them have given their lives," he said. "In the last year in Iraq, we lost six. We say thank you, thank you, thank you, because freedom isn't free."

The sculptures are the 28th work dedicated in the city's Century Walk public art program, and cost $180,000, of which $100,000 was paid for out of the city's food-and-beverage tax revenues. The remaining $80,000 was raised privately, said Brand Bobosky, Century Walk president.

"This is about five people, and the story that is told is a wonderful story, a Naperville story," he said. "It's about all veterans."

Sculptor Shirley Moss, who also created the statue of William Shatzer, which stands on the North Central College campus, said she had wanted to work on a piece that honored veterans.

"These men are a fine example of what it means to grow up in a small American town, nurtured by the morals that are sometimes so lacking, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to do the statues," she said.

Marty Hirsch, Kuefler's daughter, told the crowd that when she and her three siblings were younger, her father didn't talk about his war experiences as an Army tank commander.

"He was our hero because he protected us and comforted us when we were scared," she said.

Mazza said he didn't quite recognize the portrayal of his younger self.

"There are a lot of others they could have picked," Mazza said. "I'm very honored."

Contact Meg Dedolph at 630-416-5297 or mdedolph@scn1.com.


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