‘Path of honor’ salutes Chandler veterans The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

‘Path of honor’ salutes Chandler veterans

‘Path of honor’ salutes Chandler veterans
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TRIBUNE NEWS STAFF

Chandler is hosting a walk-thru memorial that pays tribute to local servicemen and women.

The city’s “Path of Honor” memorial is a public display at Veterans Oasis Park, 4050 East Chandler Heights Road, featuring pictures and stories recognizing 20 residents who have served in various branches of the U.S. military.

Visitors will have until the end of November to stroll through the park and learn about Chandler residents who served in the military during World War II and the Vietnam War.

The “Path of Honor” is intended to still commemorate the November holiday at a time when most public events have been hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Niki Tapia, the city’s community resources and diversity supervisor, said her staff spent the last couple months coming up with a new event that could abide by the pandemic’s health guidelines while still honoring the city’s veterans.

“Many surrounding cities have parades or special events and we wanted a unique way to celebrate our Veterans’ safely during the pandemic,” Tapia said. “We’re grateful we were able to make this happen and we hope to make it an annual tradition for our community.”

One of the oldest veterans represented in the memorial is Arthur E. Price, who served in the U.S. Army during World War I

Originally an attorney by trade, Price had been a business partner of A.J. Chandler – the city’s founder and namesake – before deciding to enlist in the military in 1917.

Price served as an artillery instructor in France and was later transferred to Camp Funston in Kansas – believed by some historians to be the place where the deadly “Spanish flu” virus originated in 1918.

Price was spared from the virus, which infected more than 500 million people across the globe, and safely returned to Chandler.

Another veteran memorialized is Zora Folley, the world-famous boxer and first African-American resident to sit on the Chandler City Council.

Folly enlisted in the military as a teenager and saw combat during the Korean War. While serving in the military, Folley discovered he had a knack for boxing and went on to win several championships.   

After going up against Muhammed Ali in the ring, Folley retired from boxing in 1967 and returned to Chandler. Not long after he was appointed to fill a seat on the council, Folley died from a poolside accident in 1972.

One of the few women featured in the “Path of Honor” is Virginia Gleason Norton, who served in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve during World War II.

Norton grew up around Chandler and was motivated to enlist in the military after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. She was stationed around Virginia up until the war’s end in 1946.

“I was proud to be in service and I had great pride when we had parades. We were able to show people that we were trying to help,” Norton said in a 2010 interview. 

Norton went back to school after leaving the military and taught in schools around Arizona before dying in 2010 at the age of 86.

Some living members of the city’s “Path of Honor” inductees include Councilman Matt Orlando, who retired from the Air National Guard in 2008, and Vice Mayor Rene Lopez, a third-generation Navy veteran.

The individuals featured along the “Path of Honor” were selected from Chandler’s Veterans Database – a project started by local historians earlier this year – and the Chandler Museum’s existing collection.

Local veterans or family members interested in sharing their stories can visit the Chandler Veterans Database and complete an online form. The information may be used as a foundation for future initiatives to honor their service and continue to tell the stories of Chandler’s veterans. 

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