News Column

WWII history to come alive at Waterloo cemetery June 7

June 2, 2014

By Pat Kinney, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa

June 02--WATERLOO -- It'll be "D-Day 70-plus-1," but the spirit of June 6, 1944, will be alive and well at the Grout Museum District's special "Remembrance Day" walk June 7 at Fairview Cemetery.

In tours that day at 3:30 and 7 p.m., Grout district staff and actors portraying five now-deceased local World War II veterans will take the public on a tour through the cemetery to the graves of those veterans and their families.

Attendees can meet at the Grout Museum back entrance, 503 South St., to take buses to the cemetery and back.

In the past, the Grout district has conducted "Strollin' with the Spirits" cemetery walks, with actors portraying prominent local resident in Waterloo-Cedar Falls history. This walk will be the first one honoring veterans -- specifically World War II veterans, close to the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion that led to Allied victory in Europe and the end of the Holocaust.

"We have a spirit walk every October. We wanted to do one centering on veterans," Grout museum assistant Sara Nefzger said. "We thought Saturday June 7 would be perfect for it. We will honor all World War II veterans."

The Grout district operates the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, named for five Waterloo brothers who died during World War II and dedicated in 2008. That museum is a historic archive of Iowa veterans who have served in all conflicts from the Civil War to the present.

"I hope people learn a little bit about World War II and who some of these veterans are," Nefzger said. "Some of their stories may not have been told. We are a veterans museum, so we think we should honor our veterans whenever we get a chance."

Dennis D. Downs, a retired Waterloo city employee active in playhouse and community theater productions in Waterloo and Cedar Falls, will portray Harry Sievers, an East High School wrestling and track coach who served in the U.S. Army's79th Infantry Division at Utah Beach on D-Day and became a career Army officer, serving through Vietnam in the early 1960s.

"I think it's important that working-class folks are remembered," as well as those locally prominent, Downs said -- all of whom served their country.They include some who were killed in combat during the war.

In addition to Sievers, other veterans highlighted during the event are:

Harry "Mac" Reed Jr. grandson of Waterloo department store enterpreur James Black. Reed, son of a Waterloo attorney, was killed in Germany in February of 1945 at the age of 18. Reed was a five-letter athlete at East High.

Delmar Caughron, son of William and Leona Caughron, who died serving in Italy in January of 1944.

Donald Burkey, the son of a Jesup dairy farmer, who served in North Africa and Italy and received the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. He attempted to rescue three wounded comrades and was was killed in action at age 22 in Italy in 1944.

Gerald Sitton, a graduate of what is now the University of Northern Iowa, stationed with the Navy in San Diego during the war.

Silas Baskerville, an African-American World War II veteran and employee of The Rath Packing in Waterloo and graduate of East High. His wife, Margaret Baskerville, was very active in the University of Northern Iowa Center for Urban Education. His brother, Walden Baskerville, served in the segregated Marine Corps and later moved on to be a counselor at Iowa State University.

The June 7 program is $8 for Grout district members, and $10 for nonmembers. The registration deadline is June 1.

Friends of the Snowden House will serve hot dogs, chips, iced tea, lemonade and dessert between shows. Cost is $6. Food tickets can be purchased in advance at the Grout Museum or at the door June 7.

Also, Collete Jackson-Fink will also sign copies of her book, "Daughters of Twilight," at the museum from 1 to 4 p.m.

An added attraction, "The Fighting Sullivans, a modern reader's theater performance " will be performed at 5 p.m.

For more information, contact the Grout district at 234-6357 or go to


(c)2014 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)

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Source: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA)

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