Silverhill group hosts pair of events to honor veterans over Memorial Day weekend


SILVERHILL, Alabama — A group in Silverhill held a pair of events to honor veterans over the Memorial Day weekend.

On Saturday, the Kucera family and the Silverhill Veterans Memorial Organization hosted the annual Silverhill Car Show with organizer Frankie Kucera reporting 156 cars in a wide area surrounding the public square in Silverhill.

“We had a great turnout with a lot of cars and a lot of spectators,” Kucera said. “I just want to say how much I appreciate everyone for their support. It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding for everyone involved and all the proceeds go right back here (to the Silverhill Veterans Memorial).”

This year included 62 awards, including 20 awards focusing on rat rods, Kucera said. Two Top Gun (Best of Show) awards were also handed out, one for rat rods and one for all other vehicles.

Six veterans who have lost their lives over the past year were honored by the Organization, including five since January, during a ceremony held Monday, May 25 at the Silverhill Veterans Memorial.

A short program included a welcome by Mayor Jared Lyles, opening prayer by the Rev. Jason Roth, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Silverhill, the National Anthem, led by town clerk Nikki Childress, the Pledge of Allegiance, led by veteran and Purple Heart recipient Ed Evans, who also read a short poem, and the raising of the American Flag by members of the Silverhill Veterans Memorial Organization.

Kucera then read off the names of the six veterans while a bell was rung by Joel Sterling, followed by a short eulogy for each given by Kucera.

“We’re doing something a little different this year,” Kucera said. “Because of the coronavirus, many of these veterans either had their services postponed or were not able to have services at all. They deserve to be honored, so we are going to do it here.

“These are all friends of mine, some of whom were residents of Silverhill, some of whom always helped out every year during the car show. They will all be greatly missed.”

The final honoree was longtime Silverhill resident Ralph Utter, who died May 4 at the William F. Green Veterans Home in Bay Minette at the age of 92.

“He was Mr. Silverhill and he I am proud to have called him my friend,” Kucera said. “A group from the car club always visited the Veterans Home at least twice a year and I will definitely miss seeing him when we go back in December.”

A veteran of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force, Utter was the last surviving grandchild of Silverhill founder Oscar Johnson.

Kucera said Utter was also a longtime brick mason who helped build many of the structures in town, including the concession stand at the town’s ballpark.

Five generations of Utter’s family, including his great-great-great-grandson, were present at Monday’s ceremony.

Kucera presented an American Flag in honor of Utter to his son, Roger, and daughter Rebecca Rosenbusch. Son Fred Utter was unable to attend the ceremony.

Others honored during the ceremony were:

• Silverhill resident Anton “Tony” Muzik Jr., a U.S. Army veteran who died July 23, 2019 at age 92.

• Silverhill resident Ronald E. “Ron” Harris, a U.S. Navy veteran who died Jan. 20 at age 71,

• Silverhill resident Ernest Harold “Ernie” Baker, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, died April 6 at age 82. Baker helped design both the Loxley Veterans Memorial and Silverhill Veterans Memorial, Kucera said.

• Ted Presley of Perdido, a U.S. Navy veteran who died March 20 at age 82. A longtime member of the Gear Jammer’s Car Club, Presley’s grandson helped lay the foundations for the additions to the memorial in January, Kucera said.

• Phillip Tipp of Daphne, a U.S. Navy veteran and longtime car show supporter died April 29 at age 76.

Following the eulogies, Childress sang “God Bless America.” The program concluded with T.A.P.S., performed by Joel Sterling.