Western Military Graduates Eye Monument

Posted: Sunday, September 16, 2012 10:00 am
ALTON - A group of Western Military Academy alumni are one step closer to erecting a permanent memorial on the grounds of the former school, saluting the legacy of graduates.
A team of local Raiders - Jim Goodwin, Class of 1946; Richard Rook, '49; Mike Doucleff, '63; and CB Jackson, '68 - have spent the last year developing the plan to erect a 12-foot-high interpretive obelisk that will be placed in the garden area adjacent to the front gate, along Seminary Street.
The group presented its plan, which encompassed .17 acres of property, to the deacons of Faith Baptist Church for their approval. The church operates Mississippi Valley Christian School at the site, which is for sale.
"The genesis of the project stemmed from a rendition drawn by Dan Holder that I took before the church's commission," Doucleff said. "The idea is to connect the monument with the limestone gates and to remember the eagles that used to sit on top of the pillars.
"Each year for 92 years, the graduating seniors would take the flag down from the flagpole and pass it on to the juniors, so we would like to see this ceremony symbolically memorialized in the monument," Doucleff said. "We would like to see each side of the obelisk themed to reflect the school's history."
Western Military Academy was founded in 1879 and closed in 1971.
As part of the plan, Faith Baptist Church has agreed to grant a one-year easement to the city of Alton, allowing for the memorial site to be preserved in perpetuity.
The agreement with the city calls for the group to demonstrate that they have made sufficient progress by June 5, 2013, or they will lose the right to the easement, Jackson said.
Others donating their time and talent include Sheppard, Morgan and Schwaab engineers, Lefferson and Associates architects, artist Gene Ursprung and the Greater Alton Development Corp., which has agreed to handle the funds for the effort.
"The final scope of the plan will be determined ultimately by the amount of money we raise," Jackson said. "We estimate that we'll need about $20,000."
The monument would serve as a companion for the Wadlow statue, located along College Avenue, not far away. The obelisk and statue would anchor either side of the Upper Alton Historic District, Doucleff said.
One of the fund-raising efforts will likely involve the sale of memorial bricks, he said.
"Without any formal announcement of our plans, we have already raised about 10 percent of what we'll need," Doucleff said. "And this has been done in just four to five days."
The group emphasized that they still need to raise money to realize their vision for the larger monument. They hope they can eventually include the busts of representative graduates in different stages of their careers, beginning with the cadet experience and then up through the ranks in the different arms of military service following graduation.
"We would like to be able to honor the sacrifices our graduates made in our nation's wars," Jackson said. "Rather than memorialize specific individuals, we want to commemorate the institution."
Donations will be tax-deductible and should be written to the Greater Alton Development Corp. but mailed to the WMA Memorial Project, c/o Duke Bakery, 819 Henry St., Alton, IL 62002.

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