The veterans tribute mural adorns the side of Neve’s Floors To Go store in Antigo, Wis.

By Andy Kriege

In honor of Veterans Day (Thursday, Nov. 11), YSN shares the story of one BrandSource dealer’s efforts to thank those who served.

BrandSource members Gordon and Lisa Neve are the owners of Neve’s Floors To Go Furniture & Mattress Gallery in Antigo, Wis.

Both are extremely passionate about the military, having had many members of their families serve in the armed forces, including both of their fathers. They were also interested in helping the community better connect with the town’s rich patriotic heritage.

In fact, their small Northern Wisconsin burg was home to John Bradley, a member of the iconic patrol that gained international fame for scaling Mount Suribachi and raising the first U.S. flag on Iwo Jima during World War II.

Gordon and Lisa Neve inside the furniture gallery of their mattress, flooring, and home furnishings store.

The Neve’s decided that the side of the building housing their business would be the perfect palette for a tribute to all who served. The store is in a three-story building situated at the gateway to the town’s commercial district. It has an eastern exposure visible to all who enter downtown Antigo and to all passing traffic on nearby U.S. Hwy. 45. 

Determined to make their tribute a reality, Gordon began the busy work of soliciting donations by reaching out to local military organizations and private entities. In the end their fundraising goal was met when the Neve’s kicked in some of their own cash to help bring the project to fruition.

After receiving input from the community, they hammered out a design and contracted with local artist Brian Ponshock, who set to work last June. Like the Neve’s, Ponshock also wanted to leave his mark and give something back to his hometown. He began by mapping out the mural on grids made of the 3×5-foot stucco blocks that would serve as his canvas, and then, using 10 gallons of primer, put down two coats to seal the surface and give him a palette to paint on.

Ponshock spent many nights and weekends suspended high in the air with a hand-held spray gun, creating the image with 10 gallons of acrylic-based paint layered in several coats across each grid section. Once the painting was complete, he used another 10 gallons, this time of varnish, to seal it from the sun and weather.

In all, it took several weeks to complete the project and finally realize the Neve’s vision. The eye-popping artwork measures 27 feet high by 45 feet wide, covering most of the side of the building, and features an eagle’s head, red and white stripes, and the silhouettes of veterans, along with several military gravesite markers. The phrase “Every day is Veterans Day” and the names of each service branch are highlighted at the bottom.

Lisa’s father, Marine Corps veteran Don Emley, uses his saber to make the traditional first cut of the cake during the mural’s dedication ceremony, which was attended by local veterans groups.

“It’s my way to give back,” said Ponshock who donated his time and talent to the project and then added, “I wanted to do something and leave my mark on my community.”

To ensure that the mural stands the test of time, Gordon plans to have the artwork deeded as a permanent component of the real estate. There are also maintenance funds escrowed with the local American Legion Post to provide for the care for the piece, enabling future generations to appreciate it as well.

“I could have just hired anyone to put up a billboard,” Gordon reflected. “But I wanted to have something permanent honoring those who fought for our freedom that people could see as they enter downtown. It is important to me that it be here long after I am gone.”

For their patriotism, vision, and generosity, YSN salutes Gordon and Lisa Neve for leaving an indelible mark on their community and all who pass through it.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress, and CE dealers.