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    Friday, January 27, 2023

    Norwich Savings Society plaque honoring WWII veterans moves to Norwich City Hall

    John Post, left, and his brother Bill Post, right, stand outside the City Clerk’s office in Norwich City Hall with the memorial plaque they donated to the city that honors employees of the Norwich Savings Society who served in WWII Monday, November 21, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Plaque outside the City Clerk’s office in Norwich City Hall that honors employees of the Norwich Saving Society who served in WWII donated by John and Bill Post Monday, November 21, 2022. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Norwich ― The museum-like walls of Norwich City Hall are lined with artworks, artifacts, mementos of local events and items of local historical interest.

    A new addition to the collection was added recently outside the city clerk’s office on the second floor.

    “In honor of the employees of the Norwich Savings Society who served their country in the armed forces of the United States in World War II,” a large bronze plaque reads. Atop the writing is an eagle flanked by the dates 1941 and 1945.

    Names listed are Robert P. Burke, John E. Post, Joseph M. Hastedt, John Evans and Wesley C. Sholes. A smaller modern brass tag tacked up beneath the plaques reads, “Donated by the Post family.”

    In 1945, Norwich Savings Society honored five bank employees who served during World War II with the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the bank’s headquarters in downtown Norwich.

    But when People’s United Bank acquired the local bank, the plaque was removed. Three years ago, John and Bill Post, sons of U.S. Army Corps Master Sgt. John E. Post, set out to track it down. They learned the bank had donated the plaque to the Norwich VFW Post 594 at 30 Connecticut Ave. in the business park.

    “That’s in the industrial park, where no one would see it,” John Post said last week.

    He contacted the VFW and the organization donated the plaque to the Post family, which made a donation to the group in appreciation. John presented the plaque to his dad. When their father died March 8, 2021 at age 99, the younger John Post, 73, took the plaque to his South Windsor home. But there too, no one, including family members of the other four bank employees, could see and appreciate the plaque.

    Post contacted the Norwich city manager’s office with an offer to donate the plaque to the city for the war memorials portion of Chelsea Parade. He was referred to the city’s Monuments Committee and heard back from Alderwoman Stacy Gould that the Chelsea Parade area already was crowded and suggesting City Hall as a final destination.

    John and Bill Post hired Tri-County Memorials to clean the plaque and donated it to the city. John Post praised the quick, courteous and professional work of city Public Works Director Patrick McLaughlin, who oversaw the installation. The city rushed to get the plaque in place by Veteran’s Day Nov. 11.

    The two brothers went to City Hall Monday, Nov. 21 to view the plaque.

    “I think it’s a wonderful spot,” Bill Post, 72, said.

    Bill Post gave “all the credit” to his older brother for tracking down the plaque and spearheading the donation. John thanked the city and said he plans to come to a future City Council meeting to do so officially and publicly.

    The elder John Post wrote an autobiography detailing his work at Norwich Savings Society. He wrote that he was “thrilled” to be offered a job at the bank shortly after graduating from Norwich Free Academy in 1939. All four co-workers who became future World War II veterans were mentioned in the autobiography.

    “As the men employees began to leave for military service in World War II, I assumed more responsibility,” he wrote. “I became a regular teller and also sold War Bonds, a successful federal project. Bob was the first to leave, followed by Joe and Jack Evans.”

    The narrative did not mention his own military service but continued to talk about work at the bank and lunches with co-workers.

    The younger John Post said his father rarely talked about his military service. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942 and served in England, France and Germany as a finance officer, handling payroll and reimbursement for expenses. He also served as assistant army chaplain. John Post said he has all the letters his father wrote home. He often wrote the country where he was writing from but wrote that he could not reveal his exact location.

    Upon his return to Norwich, Post became a United Methodist minister. He served as pastor of the Lee Memorial United Methodist Church on Washington Street in Norwich from 1986 to 1991. In 1991, Post presided at the funeral of former bank co-worker and fellow WWII veteran, Hastedt. In his autobiography, Post wrote that Hastedt had taught him how to run the bank’s school savings system before the war.

    John Post said they first saw the plaque in a photo his mother had of the plaque hanging at the bank. He is asking anyone who has photos of the old Norwich Savings Society that show the plaque to contact him by email at jpost2@cox.net.

    c.bessette@theday.com

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