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Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Keeps Moving Forward

Jun 02 2021
PN Ombudsman | Positively Naperville

The Naperville Freemasons have announced that in recognition and honor of Oliver Julian Kendall, their Masonic Brother, “Our Fraternal organization has committed a significant amount to put the Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial funding over the top,” said Paul Felstrup, a member of Naperville’s oldest service organization.

“Oliver Julian Kendall was our Masonic Brother back in the early 1900s and we consider ourselves a Gold Star Family,” Felstrup explained, noting that Naperville Masonic Temple Association Board of Directors President Don Cowart presided over the recent meeting that unanimously voted to support the important award to Century Walk, allowing the project to move forward.

Born in Naperville on December 30, 1888, Oliver Julian “Judd” Kendall became an American hero. Written reports note that on May 25, 1918, at age 28, Kendall was captured leading an infantry patrol of 50 men to string barbed wire near the front of American defensive positions. With full knowledge of what days later would become, the first American offensive of World War I, an attack on the village of Cantigny, France, Kendall refused to talk to the enemy that had taken him prisoner. His refusal to divulge information was considered “the most vital single incident of the entire war.”

Kendall is honored locally by the Naperville VFW, Naperville Judd Kendall Memorial Way, Kendall Park and the Oliver Julian Kendall Elementary School in School District 204.

Kendall is buried in France. The opportunity to support the Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial will help tell this story about one of Naperville’s fine young men as well as all other heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom, added Felstrup.

“This is wonderful news!” said Jennifer Slown on behalf of the Naperville Gold Star Families Memorial Monument Committee, including co-chair Lew Breese as well as Naperville Gold Star Family member Jan Bienfang.

As plans move forward, fundraising for the Gold Star Families Memorial, such as the “Remember Everyone Deployed” t-shirt sale and photo promotion, will continue. Additional funds will help cover incidental costs such as installation, dedication, long-term care and maintenance as well as other unforeseen expenses, according to Century Walk officials.

Now in the home stretch and in partnership with Century Walk Corporation and the Woody Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, organizers say they soon will have a beautiful granite monument erected in Veterans Park honoring the sacrifices of the surviving family members of local service members, also known as “Gold Star Families.” This monument would be the first of its kind in Illinois.

“We’ve been very busy the last few months working with the City of Naperville and the Naperville Park District for approval and fundraising efforts,” noted Slown.

“Thanks to the Masonic Lodge and other generous commitments from the Naperville Park District, VFW, Marine Corps Leagues and others, I am pleased we’ve received $77k in pledges and promised funds required for material and construction. We’re still raising much-needed funds for long-term care and maintenance as well as other incidentals,” added Slown. “We’re hosting a RED shirt Friday. ‘Remember Everyone Deployed’ shirts are available for $20 each.”

Every bit helps. No donation is too small or too large to assist in climbing “closer to building this incredible monument for the loved ones of our Fallen Warriors,” Slown said.