“What is so special about July 26? Why did the City of Newton Falls declare that day Nicole Sproncken and Charles Ticknor Day?” These are questions the staff of the Newton Falls Public Library is very happy to answer. They are actually part of a much larger story.
In September of 1994, Nicole, a native of Hulsberg, Netherlands, adopted the grave of a WWII soldier who was buried at the American Cemetery in Margraten. “The adoption certificate indicated that her adopted soldier was Charles Ticknor, S/Sgt, 325th GLI Inf. 82 ABN Div. 14, grave 9” [article by Stefan Gillissen in local newspaper from Nicole’s regional newspaper, 4/3/08]. With this adoption came the responsibility of caring for his grave, but Nicole went much further and began to research who Charles Ticknor was before his life ended on October 8, 1944. Her search through the Internet led her to Newton Falls, Charles’ late widow Helen, neighbor and VFW Post 3332 member Alex Kish, late Tribune Chronicle reporter Marty Douce, Weekly Villager reporter Julie Smeiles, and Linda Gordon (retired) of the Newton Falls Public Library’s Local History Room. Nicole and her husband, Leon, visited Newton Falls in 2005 stopping at the original Ticknor home, his brother Frank’s home, and the library’s Local History Room [article by Julie Smeiles, Weekly Villager, March 21, 2008, p. 7]. On July 26, 2007, Nicole took “a medallion used to mark the grave of an American soldier, an American flag and a box of dirt for Newton Falls . . . and sprinkled the earth from Newton Falls across his grave in Margraten Netherlands” [Proclamation of the City of Newton Falls, March 17, 2008]. Since 1994 she has adopted the graves of other American servicemen, encouraged her fellow country men to also do so, and has taken on the additional project of locating the graves of every member of the 325th interred at the Margaten Cemetery, and photographing them for the 325th Glider Infantry Association [www.325glider.org/id43.html]
Nicole and her husband are unable to be in Newton Falls on July 26, but are planning to return to the community again in the fall. Residents of our community are invited to visit the Newton Falls Public Library’s George and Ruth Sharec Local History Room on that day, and look at the display of materials about Charles Ticknor and the bench donated in his memory by Nicole and Leon.
The Local History Room is also open Monday – Wednesday noon – 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and the first Saturday of each month 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. [it will be closed on the Friday before the first Saturday]. When you visit, take time to reminisce about late friends and former times by enjoying the displays, including the one about Air Force fighter and experimental test pilot Lt. Col. Ernest M. Relac (1928-1990) and the collection of over 200 letters and photos sent home by Arnold Hanson while he served in the Navy from 1942 - 1945.
In celebration of the summer reading program, ‘Game On @ the Library’, the Local History Room is also exhibiting a Newton Falls cheerleading outfit and the tiger mascot worn from the 1950s - 1970s. Also enjoy the baseball exhibit in the lobby display case which features Arnold Hanson with New York Yankees’ Babe Ruth, Eddie Collins, Tris Speaker, and Ty Cobb. There is still time to participate and win great prizes by reading this summer.