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Missing Loveland WWII monument found, restored after 66 years

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Posted at 5:54 PM, May 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-31 18:48:49-04

LOVELAND, Ohio — A World War II monument lost for more than 60 years was back on display, freshly painted and rededicated Monday in downtown Loveland.

Chris Moore, whose family unwittingly owned the structure for decades, spent most of his life thinking it was a tool shed. He’d been ready to sell it at an estate sale following his father’s death.

“It’s just kind of baffling that no one knew where this was at,” Moore said Monday.

His mistake would have been an easy one for anyone to make.

The monument was originally dedicated on Oct. 2, 1944. Each of the eight exterior walls was lined with the names of local men and women serving in the war abroad; a short steeple displayed the insignia of different military branches. This was the city’s “Honor Roll,” a tribute to the Lovelanders who’d left their home behind.

But in the ‘50s, after the monument was relocated to make room for construction, the names came down. The insignia and the steeple, too.

All that remained — a hollow white octagon — was in the back yard of Moore’s childhood home when his family moved to Loveland in 1983.

Moore thinks the previous owner must have purchased it and moved it onto the property. His father and brother used it to store their tools for decades.

Even Loveland-Symmes deputy fire Chief Mike Books, who found the monument at Moore’s estate sale, didn’t recognize it at first. He and his wife had planned to install it as a changing area by their pool.

“Well, as we got to looking around and we noticed the design and the shape, we sort of figured it might have been the old monument,” Books said.

Two of his own ancestors, Emerson and Clarence Books, had been listed on the original.

Books got in touch with Loveland Museum Center president Jim Grethel, who confirmed it was the original monument.

Moore, stunned to learn what his family tool shed had once been, immediately agreed to donate it back to the city of Loveland.

The restoration process took months, but the result was ready for Memorial Day: Names restored, insignia reattached, exterior freshly repainted and put on display outside the Loveland Museum Center.

"It means a lot, because you look up on that monument and you see names of people you knew,” Grethel said. “Names that are familiar to you like Fields and Ertle — all these roads are listed on there. It means a lot because Loveland is a tight-knit community."

Some of the people who came to see the restored monument on Monday remembered the first time it went up in Loveland.

“Two of my brothers are on there,” said Air Force veteran George Wolbers. “I had three brothers in World War II. My oldest brother was killed in World War II in 1943.”

Of the monument, Wolbers said: “They really did a wonderful job with it, I think.”