Donors in place

Donors in place

When Gary and Nancy Tuckfelt went to the April 19 groundbreaking ceremony for Community Day School’s (CDS) Holocaust memorial sculpture, it brought back memories of working on the project with their daughter, a student there years ago.

That commemoration, which coincided with Yom Hashoa: Holocaust Remembrance Day, galvanized the Tuckfelts enough for them to make the lead donation to the project that has been underway for 16 years

Now, after all this time, the money is in place to do all of the necessary landscaping and construction for the Gary and Nancy Tuckfelt Keeping Tabs Holocaust Sculpture.

“The entire project and moving ground breaking inspired us and we felt it was the appropriate time to leave a legacy,” the Tuckfelts said via email. “We have two daughters and we wanted something meaningful that would carry our name.”

CDS social studies teacher Bill Walter started working to collect 6 million tabs in 1996 because he was having a difficult time getting his students to comprehend the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The project, which Walter thought would last a few months, took years to complete.

“[Walter] had read about other schools that were doing collections of things,” said CDS Head of School Avi Baran Munro. “He thought it would be good to collect pop tabs because they are something you discard otherwise and they’re easy to get … he thought it would take a few months and they would get a significant number of pop tabs.”

Artist-in-residence Elena Hiatt Houlihan from the Pennsylvania Arts Council worked with students to design the sculpture that will incorporate the tabs. The artwork will consist of 960 glass blocks, each filled with tabs, standing around seven feet high and 45 feet long. The sculpture will be in the shape of the Star of David and is on schedule to be completed next year.

The groundbreaking ceremony, as well as working on the project with their daughter and the enormity of the undertaking, emboldened the Tuckfelts to jump on the opportunity to give a contribution. The fact that they wanted to leave a legacy, and had the means to make the donation, made it possible.

The Tuckfelts are proud to be able to put their names on a project, years in the making, that people will look at and learn from for generations to come.

“It will mean that we will have contributed positively to something that will have lasting impact in Pittsburgh and in the world,” they said. “We have a chance to support a really unique message and lesson about humanity. We are grateful to have this opportunity to make a difference in this way.”

(Andrew Goldstein can be reached at