Local News

Veterans brick project kicks off

—Six months before longtime pharmacist Philip Weber passed away, he got a chance to go to see the monuments in Washington D.C. on an Honor Flight.

“He talked about that to everybody who would listen to him,” his wife, Nancy, remembered Tuesday.

The World War II veteran, who served in France, Germany and the Pacific from 1943 to 1946, came to Avon Park in 1956.

Area residents may remember him as the pharmacist who worked at Avon Park’s former Touchton Drugs, the former Walker Memorial Hospital and the Sebring Walmart. He also was a longtime Rotarian with the Avon Park Noon Rotary and Breakfast Rotary clubs.

On Memorial Day, Weber’s legacy will be remembered in a ceremony that also will formally initiate a commemorative engraved brick project to raise money for veterans’ causes, such as the Honor Flights, keep their memories enshrined in downtown Avon Park and promote downtown Avon Park as a destination place.

Families of veterans can buy a commemorative brick to be installed at the Veteran’s Memorial or the flag pole on the Mall on Main Street in Avon Park.

The Avon Park Breakfast Rotary and the Avon Park Main Street CRA are sponsoring the project and the plan is to replace the 2,500 blank bricks that are in place right now with new engraved ones, said the breakfast rotary club’s president Dr. Dennis Mungall.

They have sold 17 bricks, including the one in Weber’s memory, who died at age 89 November 2012.

At the Veteran’s Engraved Brick Project Memorial Day ceremony, organizers will lay the ceremonial Weber brick and unveil the engraved bricks, 15 of which are already installed.

The event starts at 4 p.m. Monday on Main Street by the gazebo.

“It feels special,” said Nancy Weber, who is going to attend the ceremony. “I feel honored and he would be so honored, too. He would be very humbled by it but he would be very appreciative, too,” she said.

Mungall said Weber was chosen, in part, because he was a longtime Rotarian.

“He’s been a longtime resident of Avon Park,” he said. “He wrote a travelogue (about the Honor Flight trip) with pictures and things. It was really cool.”

One of the things Mungall said they are looking at is creating a Christmas tree around the flag pole with red, blue and white ribbons.

The plan is to sell all the bricks, which look almost identical to the ones installed, within the next two to three years and it is open to any veteran, living or passed away, from any branch of the military.

The bricks can be placed either under the flagpole, for $55 each, or around the Veteran’s Memorial, at $65 a piece. The Veteran’s Memorial has sections for the different branches of the military, where bricks can be placed depending on where the veteran served. Each brick can be inscribed with up to three lines, and 16 characters a line.

Darin MacNeill of Everlasting Memorials and Monuments in Sebring is doing the engraving.

Mungall said they got the ball rolling last fall. The Avon Park City Council approved it in February, and he plans to present it to the different veterans groups soon.

His Rotary Club has been sponsoring different events to bring people into downtown Avon Park, from the Music on the Mall series to a talent show.

Part of the proceeds from the brick engraving project will go back into the downtown, he said.

Checks can be made payable to Avon Park Breakfast Rotary, P.O. Box 7016, Avon Park, Fl 33826.

Applications are available on the Rotary’s Facebook page, Make Avon Park Your Destination, or The DaisyGirl Shop, 22 E. Main St., Avon Park.

For information, call 368-0286.