Gold Star Memorial Byway marker dedicated

Deanna Bonn

Botanica Wichita was host to the Suburban Garden Club and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Susannah French Putney Chapter of El Dorado as they dedicated a Gold Star Memorial Byway Marker on Sept. 9

Gold Star Mother Karen Funcheon was in attendance to honor her son Army Sergeant Alex Funcheon.

The marker is the first to be placed in Kansas and honors those families who have experienced any military loss through active duty service in the United States Armed Forces.

Dignitaries including Dr. Brandon Whipple, Mayor of the City of WIchita, and Col. Nate Vogel, Commander of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force Base, joined Gold Star families for the dedication and remembrance ceremony.

Nancy Gordon, Regent Susannah French Putney Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution shared the history behind the Gold Star Families Memorial Marker which was purchased as a joint effort between the Suburban Garden Club and Susannah French Putney Chapter in the Fall of 2019.

Presentation of Colors was made by Boy Scouts of America Troop #420 with the National Anthem performed by Jen Gardner. The dedication of the marker was made by Maxine Wells, President of the Kansas Associated Garden Clubs.

“As we remember today, we dedicate this Gold Star Families Memorial Marker to honor all our Armed Forces of America families whose loved one made the ultimate sacrifice defending the United States of America,” said Wells.

The marker is the first to be placed in Kansas and honors those families who have experienced any military loss through active duty service in the United States Armed Forces.

A wreath was made by Floanna Crowley of the Suburban Garden Club and placed alongside the marker.

“These families are committed to educating others on how to respond properly when meeting someone who has lost a loved one in service to our country,” said Gaines.

Gold Star Mother, Karen Funcheon, was in attendance to honor her son Army Sergeant Alex Funcheon. Sergeant Funcheon was killed April 29, 2007.

“I think it’s great that they remember our sons and the sacrifices they [made] for our country,” said Funcheon. “We miss them everyday.”

“To have him remembered and honored is a blessing for us,” said Funcheon.

“It’s a beautiful place to put the marker and hopefully there will be questions like ‘What’s a Gold Star Family’ and they will find out,” said Funcheon.

Terri Norgren’s son Christopher died in May 2015.

“He’s the reason I am here,” said Norgren. “Being able to remember him with the By-Way Marker has a special meaning for me.”

“I want people to talk to me about Chris and ask me questions about him,” said Norgren.

Jeffrey Gaines, Casualty Assistance Representative at McConnell Air Force Base, paid tribute to the Gold Star families.

A wreath was made by Floanna Crowley of the Suburban Garden Club and placed alongside the marker.

“Their loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice for our country in the Armed Forces,” said Gaines. “And their mission is to offer hope, healing and honor through remembering their fallen heroes.”

“It’s an honor to have [the marker] here in Wichita, at Botanica Garden which is a beautiful location,” said Whipple. “I understand it has been years in the making and to have it here, at a time when we are reflecting on 9/11, is great timing for this event.”

The ceremony concluded with the playing of Taps by John Noonan and Bruce Haseltine.