Elkins Gold Star Families
Memorial Monument

In partnership with the Woody Williams Foundation


By supporting the construction of a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument in accordance with his final request.

A project facilitated in partnership with the Woody Williams Foundation

Hershel “Woody” Williams
1923 – 2022
Patriot – Legionnaire – Rotarian
Last surviving WWII Medal of Honor Recipient

Honoring those who
made the ultimate

Help us honor a true American patriot, Medal of Honor recipient, Rotarian, Legionnaire, West Virginian and one who lived a life in service to others.


What is Woody’s Story?

Hershel “Woody” Williams was born on a dairy farm in 1923 in Quiet Dell, West Virginia. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served in the Battle of Iwo Jima with the 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division. Mr. Williams’ actions during the battle resulted in him receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman on October 5, 1945.

Mr. Williams was a life-long advocate for military families and particularly Gold Star Families. Those efforts resulted in creation of the Woody Williams Foundation which is responsible for establishing 132 Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments across the United States with more than 64 additional monuments underway in 50 states and 1 U.S. Territory.

On June 29, 2022, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Williams went to his final duty station. He devoted his life to serving others as a patriot, a West Virginian, a legionnaire, a Marine Corps League member, a Rotarian, and many more. Because of his extraordinary life of service and his status as the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient from World War II, Mr. Williams was given the honor of lying in state in both the West Virginia and the United States capitol.

Learn more about this extraordinary American at:


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What is a Gold Star Family?

A Gold Star family is one that has experienced a loss of a loved one–an immediate family member – who died as the result of active-duty military service. Those who die in service to their country leave behind parents, siblings, spouses, children and extended families. www.americasgoldstarfamilies.org

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What is a Gold Star Families Memorial Monument?

Hershel “Woody” Williams devoted his life to honoring and serving Gold Star Families. As part of that service, The Woody Williams Foundation was established, a charitable 501c(3) organization. The Foundation encourages, with the assistance of the American public and community leaders, the construction of permanent Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments in communities throughout the United States, conducting Gold Star Families Outreach across the country, and providing Living Legacy scholarships to eligible Gold Star Family members.

Gold Star Families Memorial Monuments are established for three reasons:

  • Provide a space the Gold Star Families can call their own in honor of their Loved Ones and their family.
  • Provide a site in which to host Gold Star Family Outreach event programs.
  • Educate and raise awareness in the American public about Gold Star Families and the sacrifices that have been made for the freedoms we enjoy every day as Americans.

Each Gold Star Families Memorial Monument follows a design developed by Woody himself. Each is a two-sided tribute made of black granite. One side bears the words: Gold Star Families Memorial Monument, a tribute to Gold Star Families and Relatives who sacrificed a Loved One for our Freedom.

The other side tells a story through the four granite panels: Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice. At the center of this tribute, is a silhouette of a saluting service member which represents the Legacy of the Loved Ones who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Freedom. Together, these features tell each community’s unique story based upon the Pillars of the Foundation. www.woodywilliams.org

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Why Elkins, West Virginia?

There were four main reasons Elkins was selected as the site for this monument:

  • Woody’s wishes were to build GSFMM’s in locations not within an hour’s drive of existing monuments (the closest existing monument is in Fairmont, WV, over an hour’s drive from Elkins).
  • A location in Woody’s home state of West Virginia and within the boundaries of his home Rotary District (Rotary International District 7545) and home American Legion Department in West Virginia.
  • The high concentration of veterans in Randolph County where Elkins is the County seat, including 672 known Gold Star Families in the surrounding area
  • The historical significance of Elkins to West Virginia and its draw as a tourist destination (Randolph County typically sees ~300,000 visitors annually) where Woody’s desire to educate and raise awareness of Gold Star families and their sacrifices will have the greatest impact.

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Who is leading the project?

A Committee comprised of senior leaders from Rotary International District 7545 and the West Virginia Department of the American Legion.

  • J. Dan McCarthy, VADM, SC, USN (ret), District Governor, Rotary District 7545, Chair
  • Jeff Disibbio, District Governor-elect, Rotary District 7545
  • Richard “Rick” Macak, LtCol, USMC (ret), District Governor-nominee, Rotary District 7545
  • Kristie Vandevander, Immediate Past President, Rotary Club of Elkins WV
  • James G. Peterson, Rotary Club of Milton WV (Woody’s home club)
  • Donald Lambert, SSgt, WVANG, District Commander, American Legion District 9 and Gold Star Family Member

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How is Woody being honored?

The final monument design will feature components relevant to Elkins and Randolph County and be placed in a landscaped plaza approximately 25’ in radius, similar in appearance to that of the monument at the West Virginia State Capitol.

The plaza will contain marble benches marked to recognize up to three platinum level donors as well as three markers similar to that shown here:

  • One will describe the monument itself and its purpose
  • One will honor Woody Williams as the nation’s last surviving WWII Medal of Honor recipient as well as of his life of service in support of veterans and Gold Star Families and as both a Rotarian and Legionnaire.
  • One will recognize donors at the Platinum, Gold and Silver level


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Charleston WV Memorial Plaza

What is the project schedule?

Subject to raising the necessary funds to complete design and construction of the monument, the intent is to raise funds during the first quarter of 2024 and complete construction in time for the monument to be dedicated in late fall of 2024.

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How much is needed and how do I contribute?

It is projected a minimum of $150,000 will be required to complete the project, while any contribution of any amount will be helpful, the following sponsorship levels have been established for this project:

  • Platinum (up to four): $10,000 or more (one sold)¹
  • Gold (up to eight): $ 5,000 – $ 9,999 (three sold)
  • Silver (up to fourteen): $ 2,500 – $ 4,999 (one sold)
  • Bronze (unlimited) $ 1,000 – $ 2,499

¹ The top three platinum donors will have granite benches dedicated in their honor.

Donations should be made directly to The Woody Williams Foundation On-line at https://www.woodywilliams.org/monuments/elkins-wv.html

  • OR

through the QR code displayed at right

  • OR

by check.

Checks should be made out to: The Woody Williams Foundation and marked in the memo field

“Donation for Elkins WV GSFMM”

Mail checks to: The Woody Williams Foundation, 12123 Shelbyville Road, Ste 100, Louisville KY 40243

The Woody Williams Foundation is designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization; EIN: 06-1840409.

Questions may be addressed to the Project Committee Chair at [email protected].

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