WESTMINSTER — Atlee W. Wampler Jr., one of Carroll County General Hospital's founding fathers and its first president, was honored Saturday in pre-Veterans Day ceremonies at the hospital.
Two plaques commemorating Atlee, who died last March at age 76, and all war veterans were unveiledon either side of the flagpole outside the hospital's front doors.
About 60 people, including Wampler's widow, Janet, attended the ceremony.
Charles O. Fisher Sr., a Westminster attorney and hospital board member, told those gathered about Wampler's effort, which began in the mid-1950s, to get a community hospital established.
"It is appropriate to honor Atlee Wampler as a moving force in the memorial, and I call this a rededication of the hospital because it was built as a memorial to our veterans," Fisher said.
He then gave a brief history of the hospital's growth over the past 30 years, includingthe support of area veterans organizations, to whom the facility wasdedicated.
"I list these advances to emphasize the fact that of all memorials that may be dedicated to our veterans, this hospital is truly more than a static monument," Fisher said. "It is a living, breathing expansion of love for the country which motivated our veterans; one that pulses 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."
After brief remarks by Emory Pritchett Sr., past commander of American Legion Post 31, and Thomas J. Hercek, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 467, Fisher presented Janet Wampler an engraved silver bowl commemorating the occasion.
Former WTTR broadcaster Paul Smith gave Janet Wampler a copy of a tape he recorded with Atlee Wampler when the hospital opened.
The tape, "A Tour of Carroll County General Hospital,"was broadcast on WTTR Aug. 20, 1961, said Smith, who also gave a copy to Fisher for the hospital.
Outside for the unveiling of the plaques, the group stood silently as members of American Legion Post 31 and VFW Post 467 presented arms and the hospital's flag was lowered and replaced with one that flew over the nation's Capitol when Wamplerdied.
The new flag was the gift of Representative Beverly B. Byron, D-6th.
Then the plaques were unveiled and the inscriptions readaloud: "Dedicated to all those who have served in all wars, past andfuture, in memory of Atlee Willis Wampler Jr., one of the founding fathers of this hospital and honored veteran of World War II."
Backinside for cookies and punch, Janet Wampler, her voice trembling with emotion, expressed her gratitude for the memorial.
"It was just right; the veterans did a great job," she said. "But the only thing is that there are so many others who deserve the honor as well. No oneman can do a project like this alone, and they all worked together."
Wampler started his career in 1941, when he entered the Army Reserves and became a major in the 70th Tank Battalion attached to the 4th Infantry Division. He was part of Operation Tiger in England, a dryrun for the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
He later earned a Silver Star for gallantry with the tank corps in North Africa. When his service ended, he returned home to take over his father's business, Wampler's Furniture Store, which closed in 1983 when he retired.
Wampler's association with the hospital began in 1956, when he was appointed to the committee formed to examine the idea of a county hospital. When CCGH opened, Wampler was elected its first president and served for four years, Fisher said.
Although he fought in the last world war, Janet Wampler said her husband thought any memorial should be forveterans of all wars.