The honoree also mentors pupils attending Youngstown city schools.
By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Anthony Feldes is a man on a mission.
Feldes, inducted by Gov. Bob Taft and the Ohio Department of Aging on Wednesday into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, says he's working with others on a memorial to honor all Mahoning County veterans who've been honorably discharged.
The 71-year-old Feldes, who spent 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, said he's "seen the good, the bad and ugly." That includes outright discrimination in honoring black veterans, he said.
So, Feldes, of Youngstown, and others have taken to researching the names of all veterans to be included in the memorial. "We meet at the library every Saturday morning," Feldes said with a smile.
Feldes said he's working with a Youngstown city official to find a home for the eventual memorial.
So far, he and his colleagues have gathered about 2,000 names of veterans for the planned memorial. Feldes said he realizes there may be many thousands more names to gather.
"I may not see it completed in my lifetime," he said.
In the past, Feldes worked with others to get the name of a black Civil War soldier included on a Civil War veterans' memorial in Youngstown.
He has been active in the Mount Hope Veterans Memorial Park Beautification Committee, which restores the grave sites of black veterans.
He has also been active in many veterans' organizations. He volunteers weekly at the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Youngstown and participates in the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, which nominated him for the seniors hall of fame, and as a mentor to children in the Youngstown city schools.
Taft and Ohio Department of Aging Director Merle Grace Kearns said Feldes and the other 14 others admitted to the Senior Citizens Hall of Fame are great role models for fellow seniors.
"Ohio is a better place because of you," Taft told the honorees and guests at the Statehouse.
"They are, each and every one, role models for positive aging," Kearns said.
The Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame began in 1977, state officials said.