The MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
and the people who made the Memorial
Wayne Stillman started in June of 1995 to form a committee to build a kiosk or statue to honor the 173d Airborne and to perpetuate its relationship with Rochester. In 1966 Stillman was a member of the Rochester Jaycees when they adopted the 173d Airborne in Vietnam to show our support. It was during the reunion the 173d had in 1995 that the idea for a memorial was born. The idea for a Memorial changed to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and dedicated all who served.
Stillman and Arnold formed the original committee, with the assistance of Mayor Chuck Hzama, and met with the City Council and the Park Department for approval to continue with plans for a Memorial. Stillman basically asked the Council to step back and let the committee do its work without the use of tax dollars. The Council and Park Department agreed and set aside 2.5 acres at Soldiers Memorial Field.
Stillman had chemotherapy treatments followed by two major surgeries in 1999 for cancer, and with the help of his wife, Carol, continued work on the Memorial and is the only member to attend every meeting. Without the efforts and support of God, the Mayo Clinic and his wife, Carol his involvement would not have been possible.
Wayne has been involved in every decision and every aspect of the Memorial since it started and has worked with all committee members to see the Memorial completed.
People say that without Stillman there would not be a Memorial but he says, “How far do you go back? If it wasn’t for the Jaycees adopting the 173d… If it wasn’t for all the heroes that served…If it wasn’t for the support of SE Minnesota…The list could go on and on. The Memorial is a result of many things and is a reality because of the support given by the countless donations of time, talent, and material.”
UPDATE: On March 22, 2018 Wayne Stillman decided to step down as President of Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial. Wayne has served in that position since its formation in 1995. He will remain on the board as President Emeritus.
Wayne Arnold was the first person that Wayne Stillman contacted, June 1995, to work on the development of a Memorial. He agreed and it is safe to say that if he had refused Stillman may not have proceeded with the idea.
Stillman had worked with Arnold on many projects dating back to the sixties, including the adoption of the 173d, and knew his talent and knowledge would be crucial to the formation of a committee and the development of a Memorial.
Wayne Arnold has spent thousands of hours taking care of the financial side of the Memorial. He has kept all the bookkeeping necessary, filled out all the necessary forms, invested the money for the greatest return, sent out all the billings and receipts, and all necessary government forms. Wayne assisted with the solicitation of the grant from the Mayo Foundation and the formation of our, tax exempt, non-profit corporation.
When Wayne is at meetings he handles the secretarial work necessary.
It would be impossible to count the time Wayne has spent on the Memorial but I do know that it is immense.
In 2001 he contracted a deadly disease, ALS, but he has continued to keep up the all the financial work necessary for the Memorial.
His commitment and dedication to the Veterans Memorial is a guiding light for all.
Richard Brehmer, President of the Rochester Jaycees when they spearheaded the adoption of the 173d in 1966, was one of the first ones contacted to be on the committee for the building of a Memorial to honor the 173d and its relationship to Rochester.
Richard was contacted to be on the committee and immediately agreed to serve.
Richard worked for an architect firm, Yaggy Colby & Associates, and recruited a fellow worker, Leslie McGillivray, to help design a Memorial.
Richard attended almost all meetings in the beginning and was instrumental in the design and selection of the Memorial.
Job duties and illness forced him to drop off the committee in August 1997. His illness finally took his life in January 2002 but Richard was important in the formation and planning of the Memorial.
It is regretful that Dick did not see the completion of the Memorial but we know that he is at the Memorial in spirit and the part he had in the formation of this Memorial will never be forgotten.
Ray Sibley joined the committee December 1998
Ray volunteered to take on the huge job of researching for names, within a fifty-mile radius of Rochester, of those who died as a result of injuries sustained while serving in the Armed Forces. Mike Walsh, who took vacation time to research the surrounding counties for names to be honored on the Wall of Remembrance, helped Ray in the research. Ray worked with many people, including Pat Lehey, to get over 2,000 names, and their history, in books alphabetically. Ray has spent many hours at the Memorial helping visitors at the Memorial and assisting with tours.
Ray would take coffee and cookies to the Memorial when the Sentence to Serve crew was working. One time, in the cold of winter, Ray fell while leaving to deliver coffee. He broke his hip and lay in the cold snow for a while before a neighbor heard him and came to help. The first thing that Ray said was “I have to get this coffee to the Memorial as they are expecting it.” That is the type of dedication that Ray has.
Each time I have asked Ray to work with me on a project he has volunteered without the slightest hesitation. He has spent countless hours with me selling Memorial items.
Every job requested of Ray has been done with enthusiasm and total commitment.
Rod Lee joined the committee in October 1996 and has been one of the more active members. Whenever Rod was asked to do something or whenever a volunteer was needed Rod was right there.
Rod chaired the committee that wrote and edited the narratives that are engraved on the inside wall of the Memorial, which required many hours of planning and meeting.
Rod has been involved in almost every aspect of the planning and completion of the Memorial as it is today. There were not too many things that Rod was not somehow involved in, such as speaking engagements, Memorial tours, paver sales, collecting donated items, handling over 3500 telephone calls, and selling Memorial items
Rod has worked with me on almost all of the Veterans Day programs, and other programs at the Memorial. He was part of the steering committee that produced and sold the ads for the special Veterans Day section with the Post Bulletin. This section prints the stories of Veterans and military stories and was due to be scrapped until a few members, including Rod, decided that it was too important to cancel. It also became a fund raiser.
Bob DeWitz joined the committee in February 1997.
I met with Bob and asked him to ramrod the construction of the Memorial and he agreed to on two conditions: “One he did not have to attend meetings and two he would not have to do any fund raising.” I agreed to both and since then that has become the biggest laugh around the committee.
Bob’s many Memorial contributions are legendary.
Bob has ramrodded the construction by lining up all phases of construction and getting many donations of material and labor. He has spent countless hours in design and other meetings (note he said he would not attend meetings) to get the project completed. Bob spent many hours on earthmoving equipment at the Memorial working some days from dawn to dusk. It is worthy to note that before I contacted Bob to do this I had contacted others and had been turned down. Bob has been the mainstay of the Memorial because without his expertise and commitment I am not sure what the Memorial would be today.
Floyd Riester is a charter member of the Soldier Field Veterans Memorial committee and vice president of the corporation.
Floyd is a Vietnam Veteran of the 173d Airborne Brigade and was chairman of the 173d reunion that was held in Rochester when the idea for a Memorial was born. He was one of the first people contacted to be on the committee to build a Memorial.
The original idea was to build a kiosk or a plaque to honor the 173d and it’s relationship with the City of Rochester, since 1966 when Rochester adopted the 173d to show it’s support for our Armed Forces in Vietnam.
Floyd agreed to work on the committee with as much time that he could spare from his job with the State of Minnesota. Floyd spent countless hours during the formation of the Memorial and Co-chaired the dedication program, June 25, 2000, with Harry Kerr. The amount of time spent was tremendous making the program memorable and probably the largest and best program ever held in Rochester.
Recently Floyd has not been able to spend the time on the Memorial that he would like to because of his job transfer to St Paul. Even with the commute he has to and from St Paul he attends every function that is possible.
His commitment to the Memorial at its inception was very important and very instrumental to the building of the Veterans Memorial.
Lonnie Hebl is the supervisor of the Minnesota State Sentence to Serve Program.
Lonnie was contacted to assist with the manual labor part of the Memorial by using his crews. He readily agreed and has spent countless hours helping with the construction of the Memorial. Lonnie installed almost all of the pavers at the site and used his crew to mix cement and haul pavers to him and assist in other ways.
Each winter Lonnie, and his crew, built a house around the walls of the Memorial so engraving could be done during the winter.
When sod had to be laid over the 2.5 acres of land Lonnie recruited other Sentence to Serve Programs from Olmsted, Dodge, Goodhue, Winona and Fillmore counties to assist and the sod was laid all in one day.
Lonnie and his crew have taken on the job of snow removal at the Memorial.
Other times Lonnie has been called on to help and he is always available to help.
Various times Lonnie has had Mark Allan, supervisor of Olmsted County Sentence to Serve Program, and his crew, help at the memorial.
The work that Lonnie has done for the Memorial has saved many thousands of dollars.
UPDATE: On March 22, 2018 Wayne Stillman decided to step down as President of Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial. Wayne has served in that position since its formation in 1995. He will remain on the board as President Emeritus.
It is imperative that I mention the Bob and Bev DeWitz Family and some of the ways they assisted in the development of the Veterans Memorial.
Chuck DeWitz, their son, has spent countless hours at the Memorial and many more lining up help for the Memorial through manpower and machines.
Julie Leisen, their daughter, has coordinated a lot of Memorial paper work that had to be done for various stages of construction. She arranged for permits, transported her father, when necessary, and did an extreme amount of “gopher” work.
Lori Lovett, Bob and Bev’s daughter, has performed countless hours of computer work for the Memorial and met for many hours at night, with committee members, to do typing and other chores for the Memorial.
Rick Lovett, Lori’s husband, works with the Fire Department and has assisted the Memorial committee on several occasions.
Tom Lovett, Lori’s son, volunteered several times while home from college and was instrumental in the installation of the benches.
These and Bob and Bev’s other children and grandchildren have been available to help wherever needed, including Dedication Day and cleaning the Memorial at various times.
Jeff Anderson, of Anderson’s Memorial, was selected in April 1997 to be the vendor and artist engraver for the memorial.
He attended many meetings and has used his talent and expertise to make this Memorial one of the finest in the country. Jeff worked closely with Bob DeWitz, who oversaw the construction, Leslie McGillivray, the designer of the Memorial, myself and other members of the committee to complete this outstanding Memorial.
Harry Kerr was one of the first ones Wayne Stillman contacted to be on the committee to build a Memorial and he agreed, making him a charter member.
Harry has been the driving force to get the VFW Post 1215 involved with financial support. Through his efforts the VFW has donated many thousands of dollars. His commitment to the Memorial has resulted in the addition of other active members to work on the Memorial.
Harry and Floyd Riester spent countless hours during the formation of the Memorial and Co-chaired the dedication program, June 25, 2000. The amount of time spent was tremendous making the program memorable and the largest program ever held in Rochester.
Harry’s experience, as a highly decorated Vietnam Veteran, his dedication, and his contacts, have proven invaluable during the planning and completion of the Memorial.
Harry is heavily involved in his job and other volunteer commitments but has given the Memorial thousand of hours and has remained a constant driving force for the Memorial.
Jerry Barnhart joined the committee in February 1997.
Jerry is a minister, a co-host of a Veterans TV program, and active in the American Legion. He has been at most of the programs held at the Memorial and has taped them so there would be a visual record of the events for future generations. Through his TV program the activities and progress of the Memorial have been publicized
If he was not involved in work or American Legion activities he was always there to help where he could, including attendance at the meetings. He and his wife, June, have worked many hours at several programs at, and for, the Memorial.
His position as a minister guided us in prayer and devotion so we would not forget the help we have all received from God.
Merle Peterson joined the committee in July 1998.
His talent has been extremely valuable to the Memorial. He sorted, transported and helped lay all of the pavers at the site. He lined up help from the Korean War Club to help him clean the Memorial during construction and to transport and set up seating at various programs at the memorial.
Merle, (Pete), was part of the committee that wrote and edited the stories that are engraved on the inside walls.
Pete worked with Lee and Stillman to keep the Veterans Day Section going, which also turned out to be a great fund raiser.
Pete is a go to guy if anything needs to be transported, delivered, built, or anything else he is capable of doing. He has been tremendously valuable to the Memorial.
He is also involved in giving tours at the Memorial and has done so many times.
Glenn Miller joined the committee in January 1997.
He designed a brochure to mail to possible sponsors of flagpoles, benches and benches; and then met with sponsors to solicit their support.
He researched the idea of sponsoring a play as a fundraiser. After spending much time on the project he, decided not to pursue it further.
His knowledge of the War in the Pacific and his commitment to the Memorial encouraged him to accept the job of researching and presenting a map of the Pacific War to be engraved on the wall.
His latest project is designing a permanent brochure explaining the Memorial.
Harold Perry joined the committee in November 1998 and immediately volunteered to work on the committee for engraving the stories on the wall. He spent countless hours in research and meetings to insure the information gathered was accurate.
He has never done any selling but when help was needed to sell ads in the Veterans Day Section he quickly volunteered. He sold ads like you would not believe, and became one of the top sellers, helping to make it a successful project.
Harold’s wife, Lorraine, requires care but he still attends most meetings and time permitting will volunteer for any job.
Steve Beilby was appointed as the Jaycee representative in September 1996 when Louis Vetsch resigned. Steve tried, with limited success, to get the Jaycees involved in soliciting prizes for a golf tournament
Steve has tried to attend most meetings but his involvement in sports and his health since 1999 has limited him.
Steve researched a plan to put a computer on site but due to cost and other factors the plan was abandoned. He also contacted sponsors for pavers and the special Veterans Day Section.
Leslie McGillivray was an architect designer and worked with Dick Brehmer, who requested her help to design a Veterans Memorial. She sketched several ideas and presented them to the committee for selection. During the design she worked with Bob DeWitz, who oversaw the construction and Jeff Anderson, the vendor/artist we selected for the granite and the engraving.
Leslie was never an official member of the committee but, in the beginning, attended many meetings and worked on the design of the Memorial from February 1996 to July 1998 when she felt she could no longer volunteer and resigned.
Ken Zubay joined the committee in August of 1997 and been a tremendous asset ever since. We had just started a program to sell “pavers” to fund the construction of the Memorial and Ken stepped in to organize people to line up sites to show and sell pavers. Ken arranged to have our message advertised, at no cost, by tagging on to the spots that his son, from the Broadstreet Café and City Café ran. Ken continued and as a result the original plan for 1440 pavers was changed five times to a final total of 4590. He also collected and stored most of the information received on pavers. This information has been invaluable throughout the years.
In 1999 I was hospitalized twice for major surgery and Ken stepped in and performed the necessary paperwork while I was slowed down with chemotherapy and surgery.
In 2000 Ken designed and found a sponsor for our dedication brochure. The day of the dedication he, and his family, spent the entire day working for the Memorial. When there were other programs, throughout the years, Ken was working and promoting the Memorial.
Whenever I wanted an important letter written Ken would volunteer to use his talent with words.
Ken volunteered to chair the sub-committee for the statues in front and back of the wall and also the special area for the WW II statue on Sixth Street.
All during the construction, prior to, and since Ken, with his wife, Mary, has been a driving force on the committee and has performed tasks too numerous to mention. There is no way that the tremendous amount time can be measured that he has given to the Memorial.
Bob Sheridan joined the committee in February 1996 and was quite active in getting the Memorial started.
He was instrumental in getting many good members involved in the committee.
He was active in the committee that wrote and edited the history narratives that are engraved on the wall. This activity involved many hours of meetings and research. Bob, and his wife, Mary, travel extensively. Bob is constantly looking for Memorials and ideas. When he returns home he rarely misses a meeting and has made many presentations to tell us about interesting items that he had seen on Memorials throughout the world.
He and his daughter, Liz Rammer, designed a stuffer to publicize the Memorial and arranged to have 37,000 inserted in utility bills that were sent out in the City of Rochester. That was a very important project because it helped get the word out while soliciting donations that also helped get the Memorial started.
Craig Qualey-Fisher joined the committee March 2000 and has been a great asset ever since.
Craig has his own insurance business, which he recently acquired, so his time is mostly limited to non-office hours.
Craig has worked at most of the programs at, and for, the Memorial doing whatever was necessary. At the dedication, June 25 2000, his wife, Jan, was helping and received an injury to her hand. Whatever job needs to be done Craig will do it well and come back and ask for other jobs. His commitment is an inspiration to all who have full time jobs and have limited time to volunteer.
Craig volunteered to run hot dog stands each year, which have been successful fund-raisers while raising awareness of the Memorial.
Craig is a Vietnam Veteran and volunteered to select the map outline and the narrative for the Vietnam War.
The way that Craig goes out of his way to make time for the Memorial is commendable because as the owner of an insurance company his time is limited. His dedication and commitment is something that all can be proud of.
Dave Senjem is a charter member, joining in June 1995, of the Soldiers Field Memorial.
Dave's involvement has been limited because he is employed, full time, at the Mayo Clinic and was also a city councilman and later a state Senator.
Dave was with Wayne Stillman when the idea for a Memorial was born at the reunion of the 173d Airborne in June 1995. Stillman started forming a committee and Dave agreed to serve as a liaison with the City Council and do whatever else he could.
Dave was instrumental in getting the grant from the Mayo Clinic to start the Memorial. Dave spent a lot of time in the preparation for the presentation to the Mayo Board. If the presentation had not been successful it would have been very difficult to get the Memorial off the ground and running.
Dave's duties as a council member and Senator have kept him from heavy involvement in the Memorial but he has given the Memorial all the time that he could. He has been dedicated and committed to the Memorial since its conception.
In September 2005 we wanted to have a representative on the committee from outside the Rochester area. Joe Loftus was selected because of his involvement with the community and his passion and patriotism for our country.
He is a former Marine and his family also serves in the Armed Forces. It was a wise decision because not only does Joe work tirelessly for the Memorial and our events but Wendy, his wife, works also on our events, when needed.
Terry Throndson has been helping on many aspects of the Memorial for quite some time, including chairing the Support the Troops Rally for the past two years.
Stillman went to him many times for assistance and he readily volunteered to do what ever was necessary.
In April 2006 he was welcomed as a new member of the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial committee with full voting rights.
Pete Mathias was added to the committee after Wayne Arnold passed away in September of 2005. Pete agreed to volunteer as treasure of our Corporation provided he did not have to attend any meetings. That provision was soon left by the wayside as Pete became more involved. He has handled all of our books and government reports that are necessary to maintain our 501c3 status.
Scott joined the committee in 2009 and immediately volunteered to chair the project of adding additional pavers at the Memorial.
Wayne Herivel's involvement began with a phone call from Ken Zubay. Ken explained that he needed "just a little help" to maintain the
Memorial's web site. Nobody could ever say "No" to Ken so Wayne Herivel became Ken's assistant on January 12, 2004. It seemed like a
good time to redesign the original web site and build upon the work done by Ken. The new site was published in early February 2004.
For many years Mike has used his talents to make videos, CDs and photos for the Memorial Committee. The work he did was always in the background and he never received the credit he deserved. He spent countless hours using his talent and equipment at no charge to the committee.
Several people deserve special mention for the effort they put forth for the Memorial: This is not a complete list of all who have volunteered and supported the Memorial. A list of donors can be found at the Book of Remembrance and the list of Major Donors, elsewhere on this web site.
Terry Throndson, who served during the Vietnam War, not only supported the Memorial by sponsoring a bench and furnishing fuel for heat, he also has stepped in to help Wayne Stillman on various events, including the special Veteran’s Day Section. He was also instrumental in the “Support Our Troops Rally’s” that were held at the Memorial.
Lyle Lubahn, a member of the Korean War Veterans Club
spent countless hours at the Memorial assisting with sorting, installing,
and cleaning the pavers. At other times he was always available to help
whenever asked. Many others from the club volunteered their help at various
Many people have volunteered their
time and talent to the completion of the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial.
It is not possible to name them all I will, however, list the following
that served on the committee in the past.