The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

December 6, 2012

YMCA celebrates 125 years, dedicates peace pole

OTTUMWA — The Ottumwa YMCA celebrated 125 years in the city on Wednesday and declared the center an International Peace Site.

“As a Y executive, there are times during your career that are really exciting to go through,” said Tom Sisler, executive director of the Y. “Stuff like this doesn’t happen all the time.”

Harold “Corky” Stevens, Kirby McDowell and Katherine Ross unveiled a peace pole at a dedication ceremony at the Y Wednesday afternoon.

There are four sides to the pole. One side is blank, something “to grow into,” Sisler said. Two sides say “May peace prevail on Earth” — one in English and one in Spanish. The final side says “May peace be in our homes and in our communities.”

“We are now registered as a peace site,” Sisler said. “We are one of more than 200,000 peace poles around the world saying just that we believe in peace. There’s no hidden agenda.”

Sisler said he hopes it becomes a “living peace pole,” a gathering place for people throughout the community to reflect.

“Isn’t this a great time when we can bring more peace into our lives?” he said. “I hope it brings some peace to Ottumwa in whatever way it’s needed. That means different things to different people.”

One “awesome” thing about the Y, Sisler said, is that wherever it’s located, it has a common mission, though each Y tailors their mission to the needs of the community.

“We are one of the railroad Ys,” Sisler said. “When people were moving west, Ys were set up on the railroads for an affordable, safe place for young men, at that time, to stay.”

On July 18, 1887, a group of men gathered in T. D. Foster’s home to begin forming the Ottumwa Y, and exactly one month later, the Ottumwa Y was chartered.

Three years later, the first Y was built at West Second and South Washington Streets. In 1902, they added a gymnasium, swimming pool and dormitories.

After a fire, the building was rebuilt in 1921 and didn’t move until 1970, when a new building was constructed at its current location, 611 Hancock St. In 1991, the Y added a new gymnasium and early childhood development center.

In 2003, the Y constructed a 2,700-square-foot fitness studio, bringing the building to its current footprint of 35,100 square feet.

“The Y is different things to different people,” said Jeff Logan, YMCA board president.

Stevens, known to everyone as “Corky,” said he grew up in the Y “years and years and years ago.”

“In the basement they had cages with the workout clothes,” Stevens said. “I worked down there for my membership, which at the time was $7.50 a year.”

He was part of the Hi-Y Club as a young man — “you had to be invited to join,” he said — which was a support group for the Y and got to plan Homecoming events.

After leaving Ottumwa to serve in the Marine Corps and go to college, he returned in 1966 to teach history and coach at Ottumwa High School.

“After I retired in 1989, I joined the Y,” he said.

He became part of the Y’s Mens Club, which helped do fundraising for the Y, especially during a time when the Y “was in dire straits,” he said.

“We weren’t sure whether it would be able to stay open or not,” he said. “But the directors now, Tom and Kathy [Sisler], have done a terrific job.”

There are now more than 22 million Y members in more than 150 countries, Sisler said. The Ottumwa Y is dedicated to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, and this dedication gives his staff a chance to “re-dedicate themselves” to those goals.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0420 OTT Gothic house easter web-color photo American Gothic House celebrates Easter weekend Kids participate in an egg roll competition Saturday on the American Gothic House lawn in Eldon. Families were invited to come and participate in Easter-themed events and make crafts. They also had the opportunity to dress up and pose in front of the

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 15-minutes.png A change at Evans

    OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0422 OTT Egg hunt color photo -L On a roll this Easter ELDON — If you pulled up to the American Gothic House Center Saturday afternoon at moments before 1 p.m., you probably had to park halfway down the road. Cars filled the parking lot and spilled out onto the street as parents and kids from all over so

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ups and downs OTTUMWA — Iowa's governor and his lieutenant seemed thrilled with part of the employment news Friday. Gov. Terry Branstad's Twitter page said: "BREAKING: Iowa's employment reaches all-time high of 1,615,200." Iowa Workforce Development confirms the n

    April 18, 2014

  • Those who came before OTTUMWA — There is so much information on researching genealogy, beginners may not know where to start. But experts and knowledgeable amateurs will offer help as they gather for a free Family History Fair to share which websites are worthwhile and wh

    April 18, 2014

  • 0419 OTT Tree planting color photo -T -M -L Young Ottumwans show their green thumbs OTTUMWA — Several of Ottumwa’s cemeteries and parks were recipients of new trees this week as Ottumwa High School students and Eagle Scouts dedicated their time to planting dozens of trees around the city. Students from the OHS JROTC class were at Ot

    April 18, 2014 4 Photos

  • 0419 OTT Prayer Walk 2 bw photo -L -M -T On a journey OTTUMWA — The seven blocks through the center of Ottumwa took more than an hour and a half to walk as 25 people prayed and read Scripture to reflect on the events of Good Friday. Led by the Ottumwa Area Fellowship of Pastors, the walk began at First

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0419 OTT drought map -L -T -M Drought weakens grip on Iowa OTTUMWA — Last weekend saw the first significant rains in quite some time for the Ottumwa area. How long? The last day with at least a half-inch of rain was back on Nov. 20. It was a welcome rain, arriving after the ground had thawed. That allowed at

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Eugene Clark STOCKPORT — Eugene Morris Clark, 90, of Stockport, died at 5:30 p.m. April 17, 2014, at Good Samaritan Health and Rehabilitation Center, Ottumwa. Graveside services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in Spencer Cemetery northeast of Stockport; Pastor Richard

    April 18, 2014

  • Civil War Round Table visited by baseball historian OTTUMWA — The Civil War Round Table was treated to a special guest Thursday night and a presentation about how baseball during the Civil War era helped shape Iowa as we know it. John Liepa, former history and political science professor at Des Moines

    April 18, 2014

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition