XENIA — Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the Super Outbreak, the day an F5 tornado ripped through Xenia, destroying anything and everything in its path.
With winds approaching 300 miles per hour, the twister was directly responsible for more than 30 deaths and was the deadliest of the 148 tornadoes that left a swath of damage through 13 states on April 3 and April 4, 1974.
The Xenia Gazette, which won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the devastation, will take a look back with pictures and stories from those directly involved in the storm. The City of Xenia will also remember the day beginning at 4:15 p.m. at the Tornado Memorial at Xenia City Hall.
Following that will be a reception at the Xenia Branch of the Greene County Public Library at 5 p.m. and then at 6 p.m. Herman Menapace will take a look back at the rescue and recovery efforts at Greene Memorial Hospital.
The memorial service will be broadcast on Faith And Friends Radio.Com, an internet Christian music station based in Dayton.
A series of 90 second reports will also be aired during April on the tornado. ‘Xenia Lives!’ will offer reflections of the tornado and how Xenia has rebuilt. The segments will be hosted by Faith And Friends co-manager Bill Nance. You can hear the memorial service online at faithandfriendsradio.com.
Events commemorating the anniversary will not end on April 3. A plaque will be dedicated at 6 p.m. on April 8 in the Xenia High School auditorium marking the donation of a cornerstone that survived the storm.
The cornerstone, which was donated by the Class of 1958 to the then-new Xenia High School on Edison Boulevard, held a flagpole in front of the school. After the tornado, the cornerstone was retrieved by Class of 1958 president Tom Neeld. He and classmate Bob Hagler had the stone mounted onto a plaque and it will reside permanently in the high school lobby as a memorial.
All are invited to attend this ceremony.
The Greene County Ohio Historical Society plans an exhibit of artifacts and photographs from the tornado as well as two opportunities to hear some history surrounding the event.
The tornado-related exhibits at the Historical Society feature newspaper coverage from 1974, photographs of damage to homes and businesses, plus artifacts such as wooden clock hands from the courthouse, a piece of wood with a quarter embedded, and a washcloth that came through an Arrowhead roof.
The program, “Back from Disaster,” is scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 14 at the Historical Society’s Carriage House museum, 76 West Church Street. The event is free and open to the public.
The Historical Society plans an open house from 1-4 p.m. on April 5 and 6. The open house is free, but donations are accepted. Items for sale will include a limited number of tiles from the Greene County Courthouse for $10, and slates from the Snediker Carriage House for $15.
A special-edition calendar, available at the Historical Society for $5, features firms and institutions that were in business in 1974 and still exist today.
A list of events include:
• 4:15 p.m. April 3: Tornado Memorial 1974, at the Tornado Memorial at Xenia City Hall;
• 5 p.m. April 3: Reception at the Xenia Branch of the Greene County Public;
• 6 p.m. April 3: Looking Back-Rescue and Recovery Efforts at Greene Memorial Hospital, by Herman Menapace at the Xenia Branch of the Greene County Public Library;
• 7 p.m. April 3: “Paying it Forward” Xenia 4 Moore, Oklahoma, Xenian’s unite to assist adoptive families in Moore, Oklahoma, by Debby Stevens;
• 6 p.m. April 8: Xenia Community Schools will hold a Commemorative Plaque Dedication Ceremony at the Xenia High School Auditorium;
• 10:30 a.m. April 11: Xenia Adult Book Club to hold a discussion of Polk Laffoon’s “Tornado.”