Leader Telegram  Article - Memorial Day 2003
Front Page
5/26/2003 10:22:26 AM
From the heart
Three Eau Claire volunteers gave countless hours to build an online gallery to tell the Chippewa Valley’s version of World War II.
Troy Espe
Leader-Telegram Staff
Staff photo by Shane Opatz
From left, Gloria Froehle, Harold "Diz" Kronenberg and Julie Lowy collaborated on a Web site called the Chippewa Valley Contribution to World War II.
They didn’t get paid, and it wasn’t for their families.

Yet Gloria Froehle and Julie Lowy donated countless hours to create a Web site titled Chippewa Valley’s Contribution to World War II.

The Web site, at www.memorial.ecasd.k12.wi.us/Departments/SociStud/Diz/Diz.htm, is an exhaustive online museum of area men and women who fought in World War II. Internet users can read decades-old newspaper clippings by clicking on any of 4,000 names.

The Web site contains photos, military terms, timeline, prisoners of war, medals, currency and airplanes.

It shows the war effort in Eau Claire. It has a photograph of the Jaycees sending cigarettes overseas and blood drives by the American Red Cross. It retells events hosted by United Service Organization women and who made the best potato salad.

Froehle and Lowy started the project in November. Both work at Memorial High School. Froehle teaches English. Lowy is an assistant technology specialist.

Last fall, local World War II veteran Harold “Diz” Kronenberg, who was Froehle’s assistant girls golf coach, approached her with boxes of scrapbooks. He had gotten the scrapbooks from the Henry and Elizabeth Perry family of Eau Claire in the mid-1990s.

Kronenberg had wanted to make a book. When no one would help him, the scrapbooks sat in his basement for seven years.

Froehle agreed to help.

“When he said ‘I want grandkids to know what their grandpas and grandmas did,’ I couldn’t say no,” she said.

Froehle enlisted Lowy, who suggested a Web site. The project took off.

“When these two came along, it was a godsend,” Kronenberg, 78, of Eau Claire, said. “They’re doing a tremendous job with it.”

The scrapbooks contained thousands of articles about World War II published in the Leader and Telegram newspapers between 1941 and 1945. Kronenberg had alphabetizedclippings by soldiers’ names.

At home on their own time, Froehle and Lowy attempted to digitize faded yellow newspapers. Many clippings were too worn to be scanned. The women had to retype them manually. They used magnifying glasses to decipher text.

Lowy worked while watching the war with Iraq.

“It helped me get through the war a little bit,” she said. “It made me feel like I was supporting the troops.”

Froehle and Lowy allotted two years for the project but finished in seven months. They are unveiling the Web site in conjunction with Memorial Day today.

“It’s Memorial Day,” Froehle said. “We should get this out there.”

Kronenberg has written dozens of memoirs, which are posted on the Web site. He was an Army Air Force staff sergeant who flew combat missions in North Africa, Italy and England.

“I have fun doing it,” he said. “It’s fun remembering and writing memoirs.”

There are 39 letters home from soldiers throughout the world. Subjects include first-person accounts of D-Day and Dachau concentration camp.

Chippewa Valley’s Contribution to World War II remains a work in progress. Froehle and Lowy hope area families will share World War II scrapbooks and memorabilia.

“If they want to put it on the Web site, we’d like to have them,” Lowy said.

Some veterans have stepped forward already. Eau Claire veteran Art Petzold shared memories and photographs of flying with actor Jimmy Stewart.

Memorial teachers have shared the site with students who have researched relatives.

“We see all these possibilities for kids to learn,” Froehle said.

With Internet space filling up, Froehle and Lowy are seeking donations to buy a server. They’ve paid expenses out of their own pockets to this point. With a new server, they hope to include more artifacts and video memoirs.

“We never see this as quite being done,” Froehle said.

While the project has proven a monumental task, the women say they’re repaying a generation for freeing the world.

“They gave up a lot for us to be here,” Lowy said. “You have to respect that.”

“We feel blessed we fell into this,” Froehle said. “When you open yourself to good things, it somehow gets done.”

Espe can be reached at 833-9206, (800) 236-7077 or troy.espe@ecpc.com.