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Fund established to support preservation of Olean Veterans Wall of Honor memorial

by kwindus
Wed, Nov 10th 2021 04:00 pm
Karen Niemic Buchheit and Kathy Moore stand at the site of the wall of honor.
Karen Niemic Buchheit and Kathy Moore stand at the site of the wall of honor.

Since Veterans Day of 2006, the Olean Veterans Wall of Honor memorial has stood in War Veterans Park as a reminder of all of the local service men and women who had sacrificed their lives in active duty.

The Olean Veterans Wall of Honor Fund, recently established at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, will help ensure that the memorial can continue to serve that purpose, in all its plaintive beauty, for many years to come. 

The memorial came into being thanks to the efforts of Ann Padlo, who had five brothers that served in the world wars, after she organized a committee of individuals including herself, Gregory Snyder, Robert Clemens, Edward Goodliff, Donald McFall, Ronald and Shannon Scott, John Walsh and Bill Moore.

The committee helped to lead fundraising efforts and secured support for the construction and installation of the monument by Duggan & Duggan and Crandall’s Memorials. The wall site also includes a brick path, which can be purchased by individuals to support the maintenance of the memorial and can be engraved as a tribute as well.

The site is also the home of the Louis Zamperini Memorial, which is a tribute to the Olean native and decorated war hero.

Zamperini participated in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin as a distance runner. He went on to serve in the military during World War II, when he was captured and held as a prisoner of war in Japan. His story was turned into a book and in 2014 a major motion picture, “Unbroken.”

After the monument was installed and dedicated, Bill Moore, an Olean native and a Vietnam veteran, took on the responsibility of maintaining the memorial and the grounds.

“From the beginning, Bill was considered the secretary and treasurer for the committee – he was Ann’s right-hand man,” remembered his wife, Kathy Moore. “He took all of the brick and block orders for the memorial, and he was also the groundskeeper. He is the one that took care of all of the flowers, installed the wreaths every Veterans and Memorial Day and made sure the flags were up at the memorial.”

For 15 years, Bill saw it as his responsibility to make sure that the wall of honor was maintained, said Kathy.

Bill fought a courageous 6-year battle with multiple myeloma that resulted from exposure to Agent Orange during his service in Vietnam. He passed away on July 26, 2021.

“It was his wish to continue taking care of the memorial, and sadly he got too sick to continue fulfilling that,” remembered Kathy.

To the very end, one of his most sincere concerns was that the Veterans Wall of Honor continue to be maintained and preserved. So, while battling cancer, he began discussions with others on turning the funds for the wall of honor into an endowment fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation.

After his passing, his wife, Kathy, made sure to fulfill his commitment by doing just that.

“This fund means a great deal to me, because I know it is what Bill wanted,” said Kathy. “It is important that the wall is preserved as a tribute to our veterans, and it is important to me that it also honors Bill’s dedication to it.

“He was a true patriot, and he made the sacrifice to his country,” she added.

The Olean Veterans Wall of Honor Fund will provide support for the upkeep of the Olean War Veterans Wall of Honor monument including, but not limited to, paying for maintenance, landscaping around the monument, flowers and flags. The fund will also be the recipient of donations made for the installation of memorial bricks at the wall of honor site.

As the advisor of the fund, Kathy will work with CRCF to identify potential projects and areas in need of maintenance and upkeep and direct funds to be used for those purposes.

Memorial bricks can be ordered at Crandall’s Memorials, and payment for the bricks can be made to the Olean Veterans Wall of Honor fund in care of  CRCF.

“The wall of honor is a tribute to all of those that paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect this country,” said CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit. “At CRCF we view it as essential to help continue the work that Bill did for so many years so that we may never forget the sacrifice of those veterans from our community.”

Donations can be made to support the preservation of the monument to the Olean Veterans Wall of Honor Fund at CRCF, 301 North Union St., Suite 203, Olean, NY 14760 or online at cattfoundation.org

Established in 1994, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).