By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — A fundraising push to restore the deteriorating Doughboy monument has so far failed to gain much traction, and residents coordinating the restoration effort are urging residents and local businesses to help contribute before it’s too late.
“We’ve got about $7,000, which is nowhere near what we need,” said Rosemary Werner, one of the volunteers behind the restoration effort.
The Amesbury Veterans Memorials Restoration Committee is seeking donations from the general public to help fund a complete restoration of the Doughboy. The funds raised would be used to clean the monument and its three panels, and also repair damage caused by acid rain and natural wear and tear.
Werner said the goal is to have the restoration completed in May, that way the rededication ceremony could coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of World War I.
In order to do that, the committee said they would need to raise $20,000 by February so that the work can be completed on time. At the rate things are going, there is no way the monument would be ready by May.
“We’re encouraging people to donate in memory of loved ones that have been in service,” Werner said. “Remember that there are 18 monuments in town, and we need to take charge of getting them brought back to where they should be.”
Werner said she hopes this fundraising push would be the first step in an ongoing process to eventually restore each of the city’s other war monuments. She said it was important to start with the Doughboy because it’s by far the biggest and most prominent monument in town, and a community fundraiser would be appropriate given that that’s how the monument was built in the first place.
The Doughboy — which was sculpted by Leonard Craske, who is most famous for crafting The Fisherman in Gloucester — was originally dedicated on Armistice Day in 1929.
Local residents raised $25,000 to fund the project — then an enormous sum of money — pennies and dollars at a time by selling homemade bread and other simple commodities, according to Frances Justin, a volunteer on the project who attended the original dedication when she was 9 years old.
The monument has been moved three times since its completion, but Werner said that relatively little has been done to preserve it, and that it’s a shame the city has allowed the monument to reach its current state.
“It’s such a shame, we need to take care of things, that drives me crazy, when we have stuff that we don’t take care of,” Werner said. “It’s getting holes in it, it’s getting eroded, and I feel we don’t do our veterans justice when we don’t take care of things like that. I mean they gave their lives and we can’t take care of the statue?”
Werner said the committee has received a $3,000 commitment from the Institution for Savings, which will be used to restore one of the three panels behind the monument, and her hope is that other local banks and businesses will make a commitment to restore the other two panels as well.
Donations can be made payable to the Amesbury Veteran’s Memorials Restoration Committee at P.O. Box 333, Amesbury, 01913. The committee is composed of co-chairmen Paul Jancewicz and Ski Iworsky, Werner, Justin, Karen Baptiste, Bob Evans, Ruth Genova, Kathy Lucy and Mary Therrien.