Painting honoring WWII vets is special for sisters
The distinguished service of World War II veterans captured in a painting by Centerville artist Pat Turgeon has even more meaning for two sisters.
“Above and Beyond” was painted in 2012 by Turgeon, who was inspired after taking in the 2007 dedication of the Minnesota World War II Memorial at the state Capitol in St. Paul. Little did Turgeon know that the painting – one that features Army 2nd Lt. Floyd Marvin Hesse as a central figure – would mean so much to the family.
For the first time on Saturday, Nov. 15, two of Hesse’s three surviving children got their first look in person at the painting. Diane Grinde, of Elk River, and Nancy Jo Mattison, of Culpepper, Virginia, were guests at American Legion Post 225 in Forest Lake, where Turgeon’s painting is displayed in the main bar.
Grinde and Mattison were tracked down by Post 225 member El Ewert after an exhaustive search to find relatives of Hesse. The family had no idea their father had been featured in a painting.
The painting was donated this past April to Post 225 by Turgeon in honor of Ewert and all Post 225 members who served during World War II.
Turgeon was motivated by the dedication ceremony in 2007 and found the central figure for her work in a daily newspaper photograph as part of a story covering the dedication. Turgeon developed the painting over three years.
Turgeon and Ewert learned only recently that Hesse, a highly decorated veteran of the Pacific Theater, had died in 2008 at age 91. He was a Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient after 291 consecutive days of combat against Japanese forces during 28 months of overseas service with the Army’s 63rd Infantry, 6th Division.
After the war, Hesse returned to his Minnesota hometown and began dairy farming near Plummer. He married Fern Malwitz in 1946, and the couple raised five children on the family farm. In addition to Grinde and Mattison, Hesse is survived by a third daughter, Bonnie Wichterman, of Baldwin, North Dakota. She was unable to attend Saturday’s event in Forest Lake.
Mattison and Grinde were overjoyed on Saturday with the chance to meet Ewert, talk to Turgeon by telephone and see the depiction of their father in the painting.
Post 225 Commander Robin Kunkel said plans are being made to have a print of the painting donated to Hesse’s home post, American Legion Post 623 in Plummer, where he was commander in 1962-63 and a member of the Honor Guard for 54 years.
Filed Under: American Legion Post 225
I was the project manager for Minnesota’s WWII Memorial Dedication in June of 2007 and was responsible for organizing the statewide event. We hosted over 25,000 visitors to the Capitol Mall that day with over 5,000 WWII veterans in attendance.
I saw Mr. Hesse sitting on bench that day and then saw his picture in the paper and thought how magnificent he looked in his uniform. I just couldn’t resist trying to capture his look of determination and pride on canvas.
In the years since, I lost the copy of the paper I used for the painting and forgot his name. When I donated the painting the guys at the post wanted to know the name of the veteran in the picture. I spent months online and contacting the newspaper to see if I could get it…no luck. The day before I was to go into the hospital for my stem cell transplant I thought I’d try online one more time. His was the first picture to pop up.
I am so glad that El was able to find and contact his family and that they loved his portrait.
May God Bless all of our veterans and their families this holiday season and always!