October 25, 2014

Medina
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Father’s WWII service inspires $150K gift to veterans memorial hall

The Willard Stephenson Foundation of Medina has donated $150,000 to help renovate the Medina County Veterans Memorial Hall. Members of the Veterans Hall Modernization Campaign accepted the donation and awarded Rick Stephenson the “Patriot Award of Distinction.” From left: Don Simmons, CEO of Simmons Construction and member of the Fundraising Oversight Committee; Don Miksch, FirstMerit vice president and wealth team manager who manages the Willard Stephenson Foundation; Rick Stephenson, principal of the Stephenson Foundation; Dave Taylor, veterans hall fundraising chairman; Mike Paul, president of the board that manages the veterans hall; and Bill Schmock, a trustee on the veterans hall board. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

The Willard Stephenson Foundation of Medina has donated $150,000 to help renovate the Medina County Veterans Memorial Hall. Members of the Veterans Hall Modernization Campaign accepted the donation and awarded Rick Stephenson the “Patriot Award of Distinction.” From left: Don Simmons, CEO of Simmons Construction and member of the Fundraising Oversight Committee; Don Miksch, FirstMerit vice president and wealth team manager who manages the Willard Stephenson Foundation; Rick Stephenson, principal of the Stephenson Foundation; Dave Taylor, veterans hall fundraising chairman; Mike Paul, president of the board that manages the veterans hall; and Bill Schmock, a trustee on the veterans hall board. (PHOTO PROVIDED)

MEDINA — The Medina County Veterans Memorial Hall is $150,000 closer to beginning a renovation project thanks to a donation from the Willard Stephenson Foundation of Medina.

The donation is the largest to date toward the $1 million renovation and expansion project for the hall at 620 N. Broadway St.

Veterans have raised $240,000 since the beginning of the drive in February.

Foundation Chairman Rick Stephenson said the choice to make the donation was because of his father, who served in World War II.

“In the Corps of Engineers, my father was in charge of training with landing craft operations. Those were the guys who would be hitting the beaches in the Pacific Theater,” he said. “He never forgot the sacrifices that were made in those landings, and we have never forgotten the sacrifices that have been made by so many Medina County residents.

“This donation is an appropriate thing for us to do, and I know my father would be excited to see the results that are coming.”

Foundation Vice President Don Miksch, added: “Over the past 50 years, the vets have given the money they raise each year to the community in many ways. Now it’s time for us to give to them so they can improve their operations for the next 50 years.”

The hall was built as a Baptist Church in 1956 and was taken over by American Legion Post 202 in the 1960s.

Since then, the building has housed organizations including the Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans and AMVETS, said David Taylor, capital campaign chairman.

“We must expand and modernize the facility if we are to grow our membership and our programs,” he said. “We have taken this almost 60-year old building as far as it can go.”

The project would include an addition to the hall, a new kitchen, paved parking lot and modern meeting space. It would require purchasing two adjacent lots.

Donations also have come in from the Hillier Family Foundation of Sharon Township ($75,000 in April), individuals and businesses.

Donations can be made at www.medinavethall.com. For more information, contact Taylor at (330) 722-7455 or dave.taylor@zoominternet.net.

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @adavisreports.