PARKERSBURG -A Parkersburg man who was one of many volunteers dedicated to the creation of Southwood Park died Thursday, but not before getting city officials to recognize the efforts of the South Parkersburg Improvement Association.
Before Richard Winans passed away he shared his story of the South Parkersburg Improvement Association and the creation of Southwood Park with Parkersburg City Council member Sharon Lynch.
"He wanted someone to know the history of the South Parkersburg Improvement Association and the role it - and the teen club -played in the development of Southwood Park," Lynch said.
Lynch met with Winans several times, including two days before his passing, at the West Virginia Masonic Home. Winans was with his daughter, Vickie Morris; son, Chuck Winans and Ilona Johnson, when they met Lynch earlier this week. Johnson had contacted Lynch requesting copies of the paperwork involving the incorporation of south Parkersburg and the creation of Southwood Park.
Hundreds, probably thousands of people were involved in fundraisers to raise money to purchase the original three-acre lot from Nancy Hively.
Winans' wife Eileen served as secretary of the improvement association. She passed away in 1987.
"I sought recognition for my wife," Winans said.
Winans, a World War II veteran, grew up around City Park. He worked for the post office and served as postmaster at the Fort Neal Post Office.
Winans and others saw a need for a park on the south side of town.
"I saw a need and started filling it for the kids," he said. "I wanted to leave something for my kids."
The Winanses joined with others to form the improvement association to raise money ($24,000) to buy the lots for the park. The city of Parkersburg contributed $10,000 and remaining $14,000 to be raised by the improvement association.
The association -with the teen club - worked to raise more than $5,000 to make the initial five-lot purchase from Hively for the park. Winans said they raised funds by holding teen dances and selling loaves of bread door to door.
Lynch said prior to the incorporation of south Parkersburg into the city (in 1950) the (present day) Old Man Rivers mission was the area's volunteer fire department. Once the south side was incorporated the site become a community building where the teen club held dances.
Winans' daughter Vickie Morris said the teen club had about 800 members during the five-year period that Richard and Eileen supervised it. "They also sold bread door-to-door. They paid 25 cents for the bread and sold it for a dollar," Lynch said.
Lynch said she has spoken with Mayor Bob Newell, and city officials will design and erect a plaque commemorating the improvement association's efforts toward Southwood Park. The plaque will be erected at the picnic shelter at the park.
"We thought it would be a good idea to recognize individuals who contributed to the land that is now Southwood Park," Lynch said.
No timetable has been set, but Lunch said the plaque likely won't be dedicated until next spring.