1955 graduate, former marine renames Hall of Honor
A donation of $150,000 was announced Friday as a part of the second phase of the Memorial Union renovations. The donation, from retired Brig. Gen. Art and Sue Bloomer, will rename the Veterans Hall of Honor, located on the 2nd floor of the MU.
“This is a neat building,” said Bobbie Agler, co-chair of the campaign for the memorial union, as applause erupted from the room. “It has served as the heart of campus. This Veterans Hall of Honor is the heart of this building. The Memorial Union was built to remember our veterans. The Veterans Hall must continue this position of honor.”
The donation is one piece of a private fundraising campaign to raise $2.5 million to renovate the remaining 10 percent of the MU not covered by the student fee increase approved by student votes last semester.
“We knew of a couple with a history, the interest and the ability to support the renovation in a major way,” Agler said.
Currently, the project has close to $250,000 said Judith Heasley, executive director of the foundation.
“I knew that he had a very distinguished military career,” Heasley said. “So when we started the renovation of the union project, in my mind he was the only person, if we were going to name the Veterans Hall, that’s the only name I wanted to see on it.”
The Bloomers both attended Emporia State in 1954 when it was known as the Kansas State Teacher’s College.
“We met here in the Memorial Union on several occasions before we really got serious,” said Art Bloomer, now a Wichita resident, of how he and his wife met. “It’s the place where Sue learned how to play bridge and it seems like we always managed to get a couple of hands in between classes. It holds a lot of very special memories to us.”
Bloomer went on to serve in the Marines for 31 years but still remembered how his career got started at ESU.
“They sent me my draft notice in 1953,” Bloomer said. “(My basketball coach) was upset because I was going to be going into the army. He said, ‘If you want to stay in college, I know one way you can do it. I think I can get you into this Marine Corps program.’ I said ‘Marines? What’s Marines?’”
As a marine, Bloomer flew 330 missions over Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. He also participated in the evacuation of Saigon, Vietnam, in 1975.
“General Bloomer’s outstanding military career is echoed in this room,” Agler said. “University Archives already holds a collection of his memorabilia. It will be displayed in the Bloomer Veterans Hall of Honor.”
The Bloomers said they wanted to donate because of the connection they had with the university.
“This institution is responsible for the success that I had in life,” Bloomer said. “I’m getting up there in years and I’ve been around the world several times. I’ve been successful at a lot of things and it really started right. I felt an obligation.”
As students, the Bloomers were both members of the Greek community. Sue was in Alpha Sigma Alpha and Art was in Phi Sigma Epsilon, now known as Phi Sigma Kappa. Art also lettered in both basketball and football all four years and was the last athlete to do so since 1955.
Art Bloomer is now the chairperson of the executive committee of the board of trustees for the foundation.
“You could not find a more down to earth couple that are more committed to, knowledgeable about and connected to this university than the Bloomers,” said Randy Steinert, co-chair of the campaign for the memorial union. “With their generosity, the Bloomers have stamped a permanent legacy on ESU and its future.”
The formal name of the Hall will now be the “Brigadier General William A. ‘Art’ and Sharon Sue ‘Susie” (Vernon) Bloomer Hall of Honor.”
“We are pleased to be able to make this donation to Memorial Union renovations and we certainly hope that it serves as an inspiration to other potential donors to step up and do the same,” Art Bloomer said.
Veteran’s Day, a holiday which originated in Emporia, is next Wednesday.
Ashley Peaches/The Bulletin