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Gift of flagpole is salute to campus planner


The new, majestic 60-foot flagpole dedicated at noon today at the northwest corner of the First Energy Stadium/Cub Cadet Field stands ready to fly the United States flag as well as the state of Ohio and UA flags. As these symbols wave, they will be seen from many vantage points on campus, and by everyone attending Zips' soccer games at First Energy Stadium-Cub Cadet Field.

And that is just how John Blickle envisioned it.

At the podium are Ted Curtis, UA's vice president of capital planning and facilities management, left, with John Blickle, who donated the new flagpole on behalf of his family.

The UA alumnus and his wife, Jennifer, a member of the UA Board of Trustees, are "loyal supporters" of Zips Athletics, especially the soccer teams, and the flagpole is a gift from them on behalf of their family.

The reason behind the gift, Blickle told those gathered for the dedication, is that in the early seasons at the soccer stadium, the flag was positioned so far from the field that fans "had to turn around 180 degrees to pledge our allegiance to the flag." When he commented on the situation to Ted Curtis, UA's vice president of capital planning and facilities management, Curtis promised to move it.

But even repositioned, the flagpole was not tall enough to be clearly seen by soccer fans, as Blickle again noted to Curtis. That time, Curtis challenged Blickle to provide the fix.

"That's the reason we now have a 60-foot flag pole to effectively pledge our allegiance to the United States," Blickle recalled amid laughter.

"Ted's signature, in addition to what he's done here with the flagpole, is on this entire campus," Blickle noted more seriously. "I don’t think there are too many buildings or areas that he hasn't touched. Thank you for what you did, Ted."

Members of the U.S. Army ROTC on campus prepare to raise the U.S. flag at today's flagpole dedication.

The thank you is permanent because, as a surprise to Curtis, the plaque at the base of the pole is dedicated to him. It reads in part, "For his continued support in providing modern sports venues and for his untiring support of all sports at The University of Akron, this flagpole and area improvements are dedicated to Dr. Ted "Coach" Curtis."

As for the Blickles, being involved at UA is just part of who they are. He earned a degree in accounting in 1973 and a Juris Doctor in 1977, and is a 2013 recipient of an Alumni Honor Award, while his wife earned a B.A. in 1973.

"It would be hard not to be involved. I can see my office from campus," says Blickle with a smile. He is the owner of 20 McDonald's restaurants in Summit and Portage counties. "UA gave me a good education and lots of good friends. I'm a dedicated alumnus, twice-over."