After being lost for years, a plaque donated by the Wellesley High School Class of 1919 memorializing three local soldiers who died in World War I will be rededicated next week.
The plaque commemorates the lives of Karl Cushing McKenney, Class of 1907; Francis Wellington Whitney, Class of 1908; and Franklin Temple Ingraham, Class of 1909, who died during the Great War.
“It belongs in the high school,” said Tory DeFazio, an honorary director at the Wellesley Historical Society, who has done research on each of the men.
The plaque was originally hung in the 1907 high school on Kingsbury Street, where the middle school is currently, but was lost in the move to the 1938 high school.
About 20 years ago, said DeFazio, a janitor stumbled across it in the basement of the high school, and it sat in a history teacher’s classroom until last November, when it was briefly put on display before being lost again. It resurfaced around April, said DeFazio, and within the last month was hung in a place of honor in the 1938 Room of Wellesley High School.
DeFazio will tell each soldier’s life story at the ceremony next Tuesday in the Wellesley High School Wilbury Crockett Library.
McKenney, DeFazio said, lived on Abbott Road in Wellesley. He entered the army in August of 1917. In February of 1918, he was married; in August, he died in France of bronchial pneumonia.
Whitney, called ‘Whit’ for short, grew up in Needham, where his father ran a poultry farm. He went to Wellesley High School, said DeFazio, probably because there was a trolley that ran from Needham Center to Wellesley.
“He loved pinochle, and was known to hold down his share of sarsaparilla and Hires Root Beer,” said DeFazio.
When the United States got involved in the war, said DeFazio, Whitney was desperate to serve – but only after he harvested the season’s crops. He joined the army in January of 1918, and was wounded in October of the same year. He died from shrapnel wounds and poisonous gas infection, and was buried in France.
Ingraham grew up in a Grove Street home in Wellesley that his father built, which still stands today. He served in the army from 1915 to early 1917, and reenlisted in September of 1917, hoping to become a pilot. But he was too thin, and instead was sent to Virginia for drills. There, he came down with pneumonia, and was sent home. He died in Wellesley in April of 1918. Ingraham Street is named after his family, said DeFazio.
Boy Scout Troop 185 will serve as the Color Guard for the ceremony, said Suzy Littlefield, School Committee member, who helped organize the rededication.
The rededication ceremony is sponsored by the Wellesley School Committee and the Wellesley Veterans’ Council, and will be held at 3:15 p.m. Military and veterans are requested to wear proper uniform attire. Light refreshments will follow.
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org