Local family pleads stolen veteran’s memorial cross be returned

News

You see them along stateline roads, they’re usually small crosses that mark the site of tragic accidents.

For one local family, a trip to honor a loved one ended in disappointment when they discovered their memorial was missing.

The red and gold cross was near North Longwood Street and Y Boulevard. It was made to honor Marine Corps Sergeant William Gork II, known to his loved ones as Willie G, after he was killed in a motorcycle accident.

Willie G’s mother Jo Thompson went to visit the cross on Wednesday only to find it was gone.

“I cried all the way home,” said Thompson. “Never dreamed this would happen and on his birthday. Just bring it back please, bring it back.”

Thompson immediately called the Rockford Park District and City of Rockford to see if they had taken it.

“We actually checked our materials at city yards just to make sure it wasn’t out there and it wasn’t out there,” said Rockford’s Chief of Staff Wester Wuori.

The City of Rockford says although placing items along roadways violates city code, it does not proactively go around picking up memorials in respect of loved ones.

“As a practice we don’t remove them,” said Wuori. “But we will take them down if there’s a request or if it’s causing an issue on a street or roadway.”

If public works has to clear a memorial, city officials say they try their best to return them.

“We hold on to them,” said Wuori. “We always involve the police when we do this because very often our police department will know of the incident.”

Willie G’s niece Whitney Feldt says she is shocked it’s been stolen, adding she never thought this would be a problem for her family.

“It’s like reliving it all over again,” said Feldt. “Especially because today is his birthday too and we find out about this? It’s just another nail in our hearts.”

“It’s very cruel to do something like that to a Marine, or Navy, Army, any of them that has stuff out there like that,” said Thompson. “Don’t destroy people’s things, it’s not right.”

Willie G’s family asks the cross be returned to it’s place — no questions asked.

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