The Grapevine

by Martin McConnell

Condolences go out to the family of lifelong Independence resident and city historian Wes Gaab, who passed away on July 15 at the age of 99.

Gaab was a 1942 graduate of Independence High School and a WWII Army veteran. He was drafted to the Army as an infantryman and was later selected for the Army Specialized Training Program, in which soldiers were sent to various colleges and universities to take coursework in engineering and other related subjects, according to the Virginia Military Institute.

Photo: Wes Gaab poses with his medals earned during his time as a WWII Army soldier. Photo from ScripType archives.

Gaab saw his share of combat with the Company M 414 Regiment of the 104th Timberwolves Infantry Division. He was sent to Belgium, Holland and Germany and was not only wounded, but also saved a woman from drowning in Germany. He was awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star for valor.

After the war, he became a teacher and high school principal. Gaab’s historical knowledge of Independence is written in collections of articles in two volumes of a book entitled “Historically Speaking.”
“He loved to share his memories and knowledge of all things Independence,” the historical society said on its Facebook page. “He was a dedicated member and supporter of the historical society and will be deeply missed.”

For a period of time, he also led historical tours of the city through the community services department, according to the mayor’s update. Gaab was married to his wife Ruth for almost 60 years and had two children, two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.

Independence High School senior golfer Mark Pillar began his senior season with a chance to

clinch a spot at a national tournament. Pillar already has two state championship tournament appearances under his belt, and now has a spot locked in for the 2023 Notah Begay Junior Golf National Championship in Kinder, Louisiana, this November.

Pillar won a regional tournament at Mill Creek Golf Course in Boardman, Ohio, to qualify. The tournament will host about 140 mens golfers from around the country, along with 140 women.

“It’s super exciting,” Pillar told “I went into the tournament thinking I had a shot to win it, but there was a lot of good competition. I was just trying to do my best and after the first day, I was second, so I knew I could do it.”

Congratulations to the Independence Stingrays, who finished in second place during the July 29 Cuyahoga Valley Swim League Championship at the city’s pool. They competed against six other teams for the league title.

Brenda Andexler of Independence graduated with a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice from Missouri State University on May 19.

Independence High School alumnus Wyatt Flynn is one of five Baldwin Wallace University men’s basketball student-athletes to garner a National Association of Basketball Coaches Honors Court accolade. The NABC Honors Court includes junior, senior and graduate student men’s basketball players who finished the 2022-23 year with a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher.

Flynn, who garners his first honor, carries a 3.451 grade point average in computer science. This season, he appeared in two games and recorded three points and three rebounds. In his career, Flynn has appeared in six games and has tallied five points and four rebounds. Off the court, he is an Academic All-OAC selection and a dean’s list student. ∞