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Boston ball field renamed in honor of Navy veteran

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 2:06 a.m.
 

An Elizabeth Township man who died while serving in the Navy will have a local ball field named in his honor.

The late Lt. Cmdr. Ronald Lee Wise often played baseball at Boston ball field while he was growing up, said friends and family members who attended a township commissioners meeting Monday.

At their urging, commissioners voted unanimously to rename the park the Ron Wise Memorial Field. The approval came after months of delays related to commissioners' concerns about the scope of the project and location issues.

The tribute will consist of a granite marker that states the name of the field and is being paid for with approximately $15,000 in donations from around the community.

Resident Dave Graham, who spearheaded the effort, said plans to create a larger memorial honoring other veterans had to be scaled back in order to get the project completed.

Wise flew 36 combat missions over Iraq and was a graduate of the Citadel, where he was an honor student. A 1980 graduate of Elizabeth Forward High School, Wise flew numerous aircraft while he was in the service, including the A-6 Intruder and the F-14, before he lost his life during a training exercise over the Mediterranean Sea near Iraq on July 30, 1998.

His childhood friend Ron Fine of Mt. Vernon told commissioners they needed to vote on the matter. Responding to concerns about maintenance of the memorial stone, Fine said the marker would be essentially maintenance free and that he would take care of it himself if need be.

“I'll give you guys all my number and you can call me regularly,” Fine told the board.

Fine remembered Wise as a “great guy who always had a smile on his face.”

Collin Kelly, who was also friends with Wise growing up, remembered him as someone who “always looked for the best in people and found it.”

Kelly said commissioners “did something honorable here tonight” in allowing the memorial to be placed at the ball field.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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