Skip Navigation

Commissioner Tony Grippa, Dan Winchester, and Committee Co. Walli Beall.
Image take on  November 11, 2001 at the dedication, 
located in front of the Leon County Court House.

On November 11, 2001, more than 56 years after the end of the conflict, Leon County's veterans of World War II got their first memorial --- a life-size bronze statue of an aged veteran set in a circular brick walkway.

The memorial is set on the lawn of the County Courthouse just down the street from the Vietnam memorial.

'I grew up with World War II,' said Walli Beall, one of the citizens who has led the effort to raise money for the $78,000 memorial. 'That was a defining point for a whole generation of us. The amazing thing is we are just getting around to putting up memorials.'

So far, Beall said, she and a close group of friends have managed to raise all but $4,000 of the money from donations and the sale of more than 700 memorial bricks engraved with the names of veterans. She hopes to raise the rest by selling more bricks.

The Community Foundation of North Florida --- an established nonprofit organization --- has been handling the donations.

Joy Watkins, executive director of the foundation, gave the credit for the memorial to Beall's group but also thanked Leon County commissioners for donating the space for the monument.

County Commissioner Tony Grippa brought the idea to the commission's agenda, and county Director of Facilities Management Tom Brantley helped design the installation.

'They allowed us to put it there on public property in a very prominent place,' Watkins said.

It depicts a soldier who came home and helped build this country,' Beall said of the statue, designed by local artist Sandy Proctor. 'I think it has a poignancy that is amazing.'

Reinforcements needed in the garage, sir

When Leon County officials began preparing to install the World War II memorial, they ran into an unexpected obstacle --- the courthouse parking garage. Oh sure, they knew it was there, but they didn't know it was cracking under the weight of the ground above it. Before putting in the new memorial, which by some estimates could weigh as much as 135 tons, they needed to reinforce the parking garage under the courthouse, which opened in 1990. The cracks 'could have been quite serious had an additional load been applied to the top side of the deck without strengthening being applied,' said Tom Brantley, the county's director of facilities management. The $36,000 solution? Nineteen 3-inch-wide carbon fiber reinforced strips installed one foot apart inside the roof of the garage. Brantley said a drainage system under the lawn that was not built to the original specifications might have contributed to the cracking.

This article appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat in November, 2001 and was written by reporter John Fleming.