Monday, April 23, 2012
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New sign at Ray White Park pays tribute to a friend of the community

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[April 23, 2012]  For many years, the city park on Short 11th Street, just off Monroe, has been known as the Ray White Park.

It was named after White, who lived kitty-corner from the park and was instrumental in keeping the play area safe for children in the community.

White was a 20-year employee of the city of Lincoln. He served as superintendent of the street and alley department until the mid-1980s, according to Tracy Jackson, the current superintendent.

White was Donnie Osborne's predecessor and mentor in the city department. When White left the position, Osborne took his place and served as the superintendent until 2003, when the torch was passed to Jackson.

Ray White Park started out as an empty lot where children played. With the efforts of White and others in the community, the city declared it a park and added playground equipment to the area.

While the city became responsible for the park, it was White and others in the community who kept an eye on things.

Last Thursday afternoon, on White's 91st birthday, several folks gathered at the park for the dedication of a new sign. The old one had fallen into ill repair and had become more of an eyesore than an honor.

Jackson said the new sign had been created with virtually no money involved. The street department had used brick and other materials they had on hand; the artwork had been provided by Peasley Memorials; and the sign had been erected by city crews.

At the unveiling, Jackson spoke briefly, explaining how the sign had been built, then talked for a moment about White.

Also on hand at the unveiling was White's widow; Pauline. She still lives kitty-corner from the park and said she had taken her husband's place in keeping an eye on the park and shouting out when she sees kids misbehaving.

Paula Schaub, White's daughter, has also taken an interest in the park, along with several others from community who keep an eye on children playing and also volunteer time to help the city keep trash picked up in the park.

Schaub said the park is a very popular place. Several children live in the area, and after school and on weekends, the park is filled with children and their parents.

"This park was my dad's dream," Schaub said. "He loved kids. He would sit out in his chair and watch the kids play."

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Mayor Keith Snyder was on hand Thursday, along with Alderwomen Kathy Horn and Jonie Tibbs, Alderman David Armbrust, Kathy Vinyard of the From the Ground Up group, Marsha Greenslate and Roy Logan of the Lincoln Park District, and several other members of the community.

Snyder said: "I've told a lot of people over the years Ray White was one of the best bosses I ever had. I worked for him for four summers. He was a great, great guy. For us college kids who worked in the summer, he was great. When we didn't do something right, we learned about it, but when we did stuff OK, he was right there to tell us we'd done well. I'm happy that this park commemorates a great guy and his service to the community."

The From the Ground Up group has also been involved in trying to keep the park nice for the community. Ray White Park is one of the "Plant it in the Park" projects for the group. Vinyard said they cut out the flower beds around the sign location, used plants donated by the horticulture department at Logan Correctional Center and worked with Schaub and other members of the community to get the planting all done.

During the ceremony, Schaub said the park had playground equipment but could use a little more. Jackson told the gathering that the mayor and city council have hopes of doing improvement projects on this park as well as others in the future, but it is all contingent on the city having the money available to do the work, which at the moment they don't.

But, for the time being, the sign is a nice addition to the park, and a suitable memorial to someone who cared very much about the park and the children who played there.


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