Opinion: A homecoming for CT's official state hero

Thank you to everyone who came out in the oppressive heat to join with me in the unveiling and rededication of the 1901 Nathan Hale Memorial Fountain at its Fodor Farm location.

I want to particularly thank the many people over the past decade who have helped me to make this happen. Thank you for Dana Laird for showing me the photo she had taken in 2011 of where the horse trough was at Ambler Farm in Wilton, and Pete Bondi who told me that he was told by someone in the Wilton Garden Club that they were looking to “get rid of the trough.” Thank you to former First Selectmen Bob Russell who worked with me to make this happen after many in Norwalk weren’t successful in getting this returned to Norwalk for decades. Thank you to Mike Moccaie, former Recreation & Parks director, for having an idea for an herb garden (now Pollinator Pathway) at Fodor so the trough wouldn’t have to come to our house or get left off in front of Nathan Hale Middle School where the other part, the stele, in a bad state of disrepair, was located at that time. Thank you to my husband Jordan and the crew at Minutemen Land Services that together with Norwalk Recreation & Parks hauled the two-ton trough to Norwalk. And then the following year, similar move occurred hauling the stele from Nathan Hale Middle School to Fodor.

Thank you for all the folks who contributed toward my gofundme campaign to attempt to raise the funds necessary. When not enough money was raised, the two parts languished in the woods at Fodor Farm.

After a few years of going to my garden plot and walking past the parts there, I felt a strong responsibility to continue the momentum that was started. After all, we didn’t move them there to just sit around.

Thank you to Sam White (great-grandson of original designer Stanford White). Ultimately he wasn’t able to get anyone to pledge money toward the restoration, but did draw some key engineering drawings pro bono.

Thank you to Ken Hughes, Norwalk Recreation & Parks, who championed the project, and to the Planning Commission and other city officials who voted to keep this in the budget.

Huge thank you to Francis Miller of Conserve-ART for his meticulous details in cleaning and reassembling all of the parts, and for David Westmoreland for suggesting him many years ago. He was a delight to work with and very methodical.

Thank you to Jeff Dewitt and the American Legion for loaning the 200 chairs and PA System, and the crew at Minutemen Land Services for loading it all on the truck. Thank you to John Seuch, Recreation & Parks at Fodor Farm, for all of his help in getting logistics figured out for this event.

With only a 21/2 week window to plan and execute this event, I encountered many changes in plans. I knew last year I wanted it to be on June 6, but until some restrictions were lifted, I didn’t know what I could even do. Thank you to Mayor Harry S. Rilling for the Rededication Proclamation, and to the mayor’s executive assistant, Sally Johnson, for assisting in many details for the invitations I sent out digitally.

Thank you for my son Craig Wilson who drove down from Danbury to assist with my husband in unloading the chairs. Thank you to Maria, a gardener at Fodor Farm, who helped me hang the bunting and place all the small flags around the parterre garden. Thank you to my husband Jordan for running around getting ice, water and bins, and picking up the podium at the rental place and for helping me post signs for the event. Thank you to Stacy Perrone-Petta, CTDAR, who arrived early to provide information and distribute programs (and for perfect timing for me to go home to change!) A big thank you to Rob Frazier, and his nephew Michael who set up a tent, table and chairs for this — without my even asking (or thinking about) that part, it was genius.

Thank you to Judi Rotor from Eunice Denny Burr Chapter DAR, Tod Bryant and the Norwalk Preservation Trust for presenting me with the Valle Weber Fay Preservation Leadership Award, Senator Bob Duff, Christy Hendrie, State Regent CTDAR, Diane Jellerette, Director, Norwalk Historical Society, Dana Laird, Chair Norwalk Historic Commission, David Westmoreland of the Norwalk Historic Society, and my daughter Kyle Baker for all contributing to the ceremony.

Big thank you to Cheryl Kemeny, Crystal Theater, for selecting such a convincing and talented Capt. Nathan Hale actor in Sean Tagariello. And for providing soloist Konstantina Gotoudidis with her beautiful voice singing the Star-Spangled Banner.

The Angels that saved the day were the Brien McMahon Navy JROTC cadets. They not only provided a fabulous Color Guard, but also tackled parking direction and lifting all of the heavy chairs back into the truck at the end. And special thanks to Sgt. Sofia Gulino and another Norwalk Police officer for assisting with traffic on Flax Hill Road.

Thank you to Sky from Forever Sweets for setting up the incredible red, white and blue cupcake tower.

Thank you to Bill Peltz for videotaping the event, and to Toni-Ann Lodico Photography for photographing the event. And of course the news coverage from the Norwalk Hour and other media sources.

Thank you to all my supportive Norwalk-Village Green Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter Members and the many CTDAR that came from all parts of Connecticut to support me and this fountain restoration. Thank you to all my family, friends, and acquaintances who always were a source of positive encouragement.

If I have inadvertently left anyone out, I sincerely apologize, it’s been a very busy two weeks getting this all together. I’ll relax just enough to get caught up on paperwork, and then start planning the next event (end of summer or so) to tour Nathan Hale statues both here and hopping on a boat to see the ones in Huntington, Long Island — more to follow on that!

Norwalk native Lisa Wilson Grant spearheaded the restoration of the 1901 Nathan Hale Memorial Fountain.