New Castle Parks Board gets Generous Gift

Information reprinted with permission of the Courier Times, local newspaper New Castle, Indiana www.thecouriertimes.com

New Castle Parks Board gets generous gift

Posted: Wednesday, March 8, 2017 6:00 am

An effort to secure the funds needed to replace the memorial wall in Baker Park were boosted this week when New Castle City Council member Lynn Perdue presented a $3,000 check to New Castle Parks Board Vice President David Nantz on behalf of Dick Leitch.

Richard Henry “Dick” Leitch Jr., 96, New Castle, died Jan. 17, 2017. Perdue is married to Leitch’s daughter, Cindy. Leitch was a well-known and respected veteran, educator and community leader.

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Prior to his passing, Mayor Greg York had planned to host a ceremony in Baker Park to name shelter house No. 1 in Leitch’s honor. 

Leitch was a 1938 graduate of Muncie Central High School. He joined the United States Navy and served in the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters during World War II, where he was a Signalman on the USS Hyman, a Navy destroyer. The Hyman was hit by a kamikaze plane and sunk April 6, 1945. Survivors still gather in New Castle every April for a reunion.

Perdue said those survivors will be in town April 5 and 6 and suggested the ceremony to name the shelter house in his deceased father-in-law’s honor be held while they are here. The mayor and parks board agreed and decided to host the naming ceremony at 2 p.m. April 5. The public is welcome to attend.

Perdue also explained what motivated Leitch’s family to donate funds needed to rebuild the memorial wall, which was deconstructed late last year because it was flaking, chipping and in disrepair.

“That gift was motivated by Dick. It was something that he wanted to do,” Perdue said. “His health failed fairly quickly at the end of his life and we just didn’t get it done, but Dick wanted to personally give the check to the parks board to honor veterans in Baker Park. We’re just carrying out his wishes. The family was all in agreement that we needed to do this and we’re glad to do it.”

Perdue noted that his father-in-law was a very community-minded man and said Leitch’s family feels that honoring veterans in Baker Park is the right thing to do.

“He would be very appreciative of that. He wasn’t looking for any recognition at all, he just wanted to give back to the community and to the veterans of Henry County,” Perdue said.

Mayor Greg York shared his thanks to Perdue and the Leitch family for their generous gift.

“We’re very humbled by what his family has done,” York said. “We wanted to rebuild the memorial wall and had no idea Dick or his family even wanted to make a donation. It truly is very humbling that they would do that. I know Dick was a serviceman and that he loved his community and loved his country. ... Dick was a school principal here in New Castle. He spent his life as a mentor to kids and families in New Castle, and we appreciate his family stepping up and doing something like this, not only for their family but for all the servicemen and women from New Castle that served.”

New Castle Director of Public Works Dave Barker reported replacing the memorial wall, which was located due north of shelter house No. 1, is going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000 to $30,000 if plans previously discussed are pursued. Those plans include six columns, each with a different theme, with a granite facing on which the names of those being honored will be permanently etched. Anyone interested in making a donation to help offset the cost of replacing the wall may contact the mayor’s office at 765-529-7605 for more information.

There is a scale model of the USS Hyman on display in the entryway of the W.G. Smith Building in Memorial Park, where there also is a monument erected in memory of the vessel and the men who served on it.