Upright once again: Ceremony to mark repair of American Legion obelisk

An American Legion monument at Fairview Cemetery in Gainesville was repaired this month after having laid broken on the ground since 2011.

The American Legion monument at Fairview Cemetery will be rededicated Friday, Dec. 6, after the nearly century-old obelisk was put back up from years lying broken on the ground.

The one-ton granite obelisk had been knocked down by high winds in 2011, according to an archived Register report. It lay in two pieces, one of them 8 feet long, for years until a relative with family ties to the cemetery donated the funds to have the obelisk repaired and remounted on the monument’s base.

Bob Purgason of Tulsa, Oklahoma, “decided it is his civic duty to restore the stone,” his aunt, Palma Hildebrand, wrote in a letter to the editor published Oct. 30 in the Register.

Repairs were completed Nov. 8, according to Richard Lemire, commander of Gainesville’s American Legion Post 263. “He paid the whole cost to get it fixed,” Lemire said of Purgason.

Previous estimates indicated it would cost about $10,000 to repair the obelisk. Lemire wasn’t sure what the final cost was, but he believed it was between $4,000-$8,000.

“It has been fortified to withstand the winds and stand tall and proud for years to come,” Lemire added.

The 3 p.m. ceremony is expected to last no longer than an hour, Lemire said. VFW Post 1922 has also been invited to participate in the ceremony because “they really helped us in doing” the repair project, Lemire said. It will be open to the public and veterans are especially invited.

To find the monument, enter the main gate at Fairview Cemetery, 710 Fair Ave., and go straight. Turn left at the second road past the office. The monument will be two roads north, diagonal on the corner to the right.

American Legion SFC Jared C. Monti Post 263 was named for a U.S. Army soldier with Gainesville ties who was killed in Afghanistan in 2006 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The post has about 40 members, according to American Legion Department of Texas membership data.

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