ESU announces gift to name Memorial Union's Veterans Hall of Honor

Art and Sue BloomerEmporia State University and the ESU Foundation are pleased to announce a $150,000 gift from retired Brig. Gen. Art and Sue Bloomer, of Wichita, to name the Veterans Hall of Honor in ESU’s Memorial Union as part of the union’s renovation.

The gift was announced in what is now the “Bloomer Veterans Hall of Honor,” in recognition of Bloomer’s exemplary service in the U.S. Marine Corps and the couple’s continuous support of the university’s activities and leadership roles for the ESU Foundation.

“We are absolutely humbled by the tremendous generosity of the Bloomers. This gift even further cements the lasting legacy that they have created for Emporia State University students,” said Judith Heasley, ESU Foundation President and CEO of University Advancement. “They have invested so much in ESU in recent years – with their time, talent and treasures – and we are ever grateful. The Bloomers have influenced this university in a positive and permanent way.”

The couple was motivated to support the project for its ties to veterans, and to provide a leadership example to spur other gifts toward the union’s renovation. And they’ve never forgotten that the university gave them their start in life. “Art and I both felt that we wanted to give back to the school that gave so much to us,” Sue said.  

“If you measure your own success by any standard, consider what Emporia State had to do with that – and consider how you might return the favor,” Art added.

Art is a 1955 graduate of Kansas State Teachers College, now Emporia State University. Sue attended KSTC in 1953-54, and the couple married in Emporia in 1954. Back when Art was sweeping the gym floor for 65 cents an hour, and when Sue was meeting with her Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority sisters and learning to play bridge, the Bloomers remember the Memorial Union as a central place for meals and socializing.

“It will certainly be satisfying to know that the Veterans Hall of Honor bears our name,” Art said, to which Sue added, “It will certainly be something we never thought about when we were sitting in the Union playing bridge!”

Bloomer served 31 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, flying 330 combat missions over North and South Vietnam. He rose to the rank of brigadier general, retiring as the commanding general at the Marine Corps Air Bases in El Toro, Calif.  He went on to a distinguished civilian career, serving as a principal officer and executive vice president of American Protective Services, Inc. and much more. In 1985, Bloomer received the university’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni award. In 2007, the couple received the University Service Citation award for serving as co-chairs of a $15 million scholarship campaign, and Art has served since 2007 as chairman of the ESU Foundation Board of Trustees. Learn more about the Bloomers in the attached biographical sheet.

The Memorial Union renovation: Renewing an Illustrious History

The Memorial Union at ESU, the oldest student union building west of the Mississippi River, is undergoing a major renovation which started in the spring of 2010. For more information, visit www.emporia.edu/murenovation. ESU students overwhelmingly voted to approve student fees to finance 90 percent of the union’s renovation, and the ESU Foundation is working with donors to raise $2.5 million in private funding.

The Bloomers’ gift toward the Memorial Union renovation project is one of many. Dr. Monte and Lynda Miller of Topeka have stepped forward to name the Union Activities Council president’s office, and the Sunderland Foundation, based in Overland Park, has given $50,000 to the project.

The formal name of the Bloomer Veterans Hall of Honor is the “Brigadier General William A. “Art” and Sharon Sue “Susie” (Vernon) Bloomer Veterans Hall of Honor.” The hall will display memorabilia from General Bloomer’s military service currently held by University Archives.

On a related note, Emporia is the founding city of Veterans Day, a holiday celebrated nationwide on Nov. 11 to honor all veterans.