By ROGER G. SMITH
CITY HALL REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Chester Yanuchi was lost at sea during World War II and his body was never recovered.
Anna Friedman of Youngstown is his last remaining family member. Her only link to her brother is the war memorial etched with his name in the Smoky Hollow neighborhood.
That's why Russell Reuthe was so touched when he recently received Friedman's $100 check.
The donation is one of many the past two months that have overwhelmed Reuthe as he pushes to restore the 45-year-old monument.
"It's better than the Medal of Honor," said Reuthe, a 15-year veteran from Austintown who served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
The memorial to World War II and Korean War veterans at East Rayen Avenue and Walnut Street has received $800 in donations and a slew of other support since a mid-July Vindicator story about his efforts, Reuthe said.
Foremost is a new $2,500 flag pole that will be donated by the downtown Streetscape organization. The group, which focuses on downtown beautification, also is lending a landscape architect's expertise.
Streetscape will improve landscaping surrounding the monument and extend its regular maintenance work to the memorial, Reuthe said.
Also, a fence has been donated and new guardrails and benches are in sight. The cash donations from individuals such as Friedman and veterans groups will be used to pay the $18 a month light bill to illuminate the monument.
The site already is looking better. Volunteers did their semiannual cleanup Saturday, and the trees and bushes have been cut back.
Usually, Reuthe's family, co-workers and friends were the only volunteers. Saturday's group was a mix of more than 20 veterans and other new volunteers, he said.
Reuthe is amazed and heartened.
It all started with a letter to the editor in The Vindicator four years ago. The letter led him to dedicate himself to the aging memorial.
"It's amazing how this has grown from a small newspaper letter to this," Reuthe said.