OGDEN — A project to restore the iconic World War I “doughboy” statue in the Ogden Cemetery has finished just in time to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the end of the Great War.
The statue, sculpted by Gilbert P. Risvold, was dedicated in the 1920s. It used to stand on the balcony of the old American Legion Post on 24th Street, but was moved to the cemetery shortly after World War II.
The “doughboy” moniker refers to the informal nickname for members of the U.S. Army or Marine Corps during World War I, especially members of the American Expeditionary Forces.
Over the years, the nearly century-old landmark was spray painted, shot (with a shotgun and some smaller-caliber rifles) and has been targeted multiple times for theft. The original helmet on the statue was stolen and so was the bolt on the soldier's replica 1903 Springfield rifle. The barrel of the gun was bent backward from people trying to pry it out of the soldier’s hands.
Decades spent out in the elements also contributed to the statue's formerly ragged state.
"It really kind saw the ravages of time," said Mary Galbraith, with the Weber County Heritage Foundation.
But about two years ago, the foundation began raising money to complete the second phase of a project that would bring the monument to its former glory.
The statue was removed from its perch at the cemetery and temporarily relocated to a studio in Lehi where a company called Adonis Bronze stripped, cleaned and repaired the bronze on the statue. The company also recreated and replaced the lost helmet and rifle bolt, repaired joints and applied a new bronze patina.
The crumbling concrete dais underneath the statue was removed and replaced with a taller piece of granite. The bronze medallions were cleaned and restored and a new fence has been put around the base of the soldier. Landscaping has also been added around the base.
Aside from the Heritage Foundation, the American Legion, Daughters of the American Revolution, Weber County RAMP, the Utah Division of State History and Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs all participated in the project on some level. Ogden City donated services related to moving the statue and dais.
The heritage foundation previously restored the monument, plaques and trees along Gold Star Drive in the first phase of the restoration. The initial phase of the project was completed in November of 2011.
Galbraith said the effort could not have been completed without the involvement of local businesses, government agencies, civic organizations and generous residents of Weber County.
A celebration of the restoration is set for 2 p.m. Nov. 10 at the cemetery, 1875 Monroe Boulevard. The event is part of the National World War I Centennial and is recognized as part of the official 100 “WWI Centennial Memorials” across the United States. Nov. 11 marks the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended fighting on the Western Front during World War I.
The Heritage Foundation has also produced commemorative challenge coins available for $10. Proceeds will be used for ongoing maintenance of the memorial.