(Publisher’s note: Stephan L. Slane purchased bricks for
his father and his four brothers. The mistake is noted and corrected in the story.)
Gratitude, appreciation and family pride were just a few of the emotions expressed by family and friends who watched as 12 new bricks were installed in a special walkway in Chelsea’s Veterans Park last week.
The one dozen new bricks were added to the 286 bricks already installed at the park at the corner of M-52 and Sibley Road.
Included in the new bricks was a tribute to John George Klink, Jr. who survived the attack at Pearl Harbor.
“We are so pleased to continue to see so much community support for the bricks that honor veterans both alive and deceased,” said Lima Township resident Craig Maier, who has spearheaded the brick campaign for the last five years.
The bricks lead the way to a jet-black stone monument, which honors all branches of the military with emblems that was installed in 2009.
“It took a year to get the $8,000 together for the memorial,” Maier said.
The brick pathway was built by John Scott of Alternative Paving Systems. He and his son, Jacob, designed it and are responsible for installing the new bricks in the special spot.
Although designing and installing pavers is a family business, Scott said the pathway was special for him because he knows many of the families who have relatives remembered in the pathway.
Linda Fulcher-Rathburn was in attendance to watch as the brick she bought for family friend Mark Bowdish was placed next to one that honors her father, LeRoy Fulcher.
“It was so thoughtful of Craig to place Mark’s brick by my father’s,” she said.
Maier said that he tries to accommodate requests for specific placement in the walkway whenever possible.
Bowdish, a Spc. U.S. Army Medical Corps, is a 2007 graduate of Chelsea High School and was seriously injured on June 19. He’s been in several hospitals since then and is facing a year of recovery, Fulcher-Rathburn said.
“I’ve known Mark since he was 4 months old,” she said, adding her son met Bowdish at Safety Town when they were kids.
“I couldn’t wait for this day,” she said, while offering gratitude to the servicemen for the sacrifice. “I’m speechless.”
For Demie King of Ann Arbor, buying a brick for her husband, Brian James King, was a surprise for him with when he returns home from his second deployment.
And while she was at it, King added a second brick for her husband’s good friend.
Brian King grew up with Donnie McCune II, who was killed in action in 2004, and Maier was able to have the two bricks placed near each other in the pathway during the Aug. 2 installation.
“Brian joined eight years after Donnie joined and he’s supposed to be back before Christmas,” she said.
Sitting quietly on a bench waiting for his family’s turn was Stephan L. Slane, a Vietnam veteran, who purchased bricks for
several brothers his father and his four brothers, who were part of the “Hell Street Gang,” he said.
“I’m completing my job,” the life-long Chelsea resident said.
“Out of six brothers, five went into the military,” he said. “I’m the one that’s left here in town.”
After his dad passed away, he said, he decided to purchase bricks for the family members. “I’ll come back and visit whenever I want to.”
He said that the spot would serve as a tribute to where he came from. “I’m a Northsider,” the third-generation Chelsea resident said, a place where family and community values were instilled in him growing up on the north side of town.
Maintaining the park are members of the Chelsea Department of Public Works – Dave Seyfried, Derik Bollinger, Bob Walter and Bill Paul.
Memorial bricks can be purchased by veterans, family members and friends and the veterans who are honored do not have to be deceased, he said, and there is room for about 6,000.
“The memorial is for any veteran,” he said. “They don’t have to live in Chelsea.”
Order forms for a veteran’s brick are available the city offices. A 4-by-8 sized one is $75, while an 8-by-8 brick is $100, and the cost includes engraving and installation.
The small park was donated to the city by estate of Phebe M. Bush in 1933.