Sep 9 2022
Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | Desert Times
Barbara Brownlie knew when she retired, she wanted to do volunteer work with veterans.
A self-proclaimed Navy brat and wife, Brownlie helped start an Honor Flight program in Tucson and her volunteerism “just escalated.”
Now, she is part of a team working to bring a Tucson Gold Star Families Memorial Monument to 2773 S. Palo Verde Road, the Veterans Gold Star Family Park.
Formerly known as Veterans Memorial Plaza, it sits west of the Palo Verde Road/Veterans Memorial Overpass on Richey Road.
With $10,000 left to raise for the monument, the group is hosting a screening of “I Married the War: Wives of Combat Veterans Tell Their Story” at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Boulevard. Tickets are $10 at loftcinema.org.
Out of the 11 women in the film, one is from Arizona: Terri Topmiller of Wellton. She is also a veteran. Following the documentary will be a panel discussion with four to five Tucson veteran spouses.
The Gold Star Family Memorial was created by Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams.
“It started with that desire to build something for our Gold Star families,” Brownlie said. “They shouldn’t be forgotten. They paid the ultimate sacrifice. People on the streets don’t know about them. We want it to be beautiful location for the Gold Star families to sit and remember their son or daughter.”
The design is striking: four granite panels that sit on four granite bases on a concrete foundation. The front will be engraved with “Gold Star Families Memorial Monument” to the left of a saluting soldier. To the right it will say, “A tribute to Gold Star families and relatives who sacrificed a loved one for our freedom.”
The back will feature photos chosen by Marsha Begay Moon, whose son, Chris, died from injuries he sustained while serving in Afghanistan. Chris was the 2006 Southern Arizona Baseball Player of the Year. He left then the top-ranked UA in 2008 to join the Army.
Chris was the 46th member of the military with Southern Arizona ties to die in the ongoing war.
Brownlie said she hopes the memorial will be finished by next summer.
“The park has a ramp with an overpass over it and benches at the top of the ramp. It looks at Davis Monthan runway,” she added. “Last year, a friend and I went out there to watch the air show.”
Besides Moon and Brownlie, the committee is Lt. Col. USAF Dave Falkner, Debbie Rich, Bonnie Else, Lt. Col. USAF Marge Hawthorne and Nancy Grant. The honorary chairs are Brig. Gen. and Mrs. Keith Connolly. The team members are Pima County Public Works Department and Woody Williams Foundation, Louisville, Kentucky.
To donate, send a check payable to Woody Williams Foundation and on the memo line put Tucson. Mail it to 12123 Shelbyville Road, Suite 100, Louisville, Kentucky, 40243.