WALPOLE — The large Confederate flag that flew on private property next to the Walpole High School athletic field has come down — removed by family members of the now deceased man who erected it.
“I think it’s a good thing, a positive step,” said Police Chief John Carmichael. “There was so much controversy behind it.”
Joseph Finneran, a 1969 Walpole High graduate whose property abuts Turco Field, put up the Rebel flag about six years ago to honor the Walpole “Rebels” football team — and ignored repeated requests from school administrators and students to take down what many considered an outdated and divisive symbol.
The Walpole School Committee responded by putting up a sign apologizing for their neighbor’s flag. They then voted to install a banner emblazoned with a big W to hide the flag.
“Walpole is not a racist town and does not want to be perceived that way,” School Committee chairwoman Nancy Gallivan said at the time.
Walpole High School Principal Stephen Imbusch said he was happy to see the flag come down.
“Since the time it was placed on that property overlooking our school, it never promoted the positive ideals that we strive for,” he said. “Finally we can show this community, as well as those that visit, that being Walpole Rebels means something much greater than that flag could ever symbolize.”
Joseph Finneran and his wife Margery both died in September 2015.
“Family members have indicated to us for some time that they planned to remove the flag, and ... someone took it down,” Carmichael said.