Welcome to Arlington Great Southwest Rotary's Veterans Park Foundation Website
Park 100-Veterans Park
The Arlington Veterans Park Foundation was created by Arlington Great Southwest Rotary Club.Its mission is threefold:
  • Raise funds to complete the construction of the Arlington Veterans Memorial Master Plan
  • Ensure that new proposals for veterans memorials fit with existing plans and other memorials
  • Assist in funding Arlington’s Annual Veterans Day Commemoration

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Veteran's Park
 3600 W Arkansas Ln, Arlington, TX 76016

The Veterans Memorial situated in Arlington’s Veterans Park, located at Arkansas Lane and Spanish Trail, is a project of the Rotary Clubs in Arlington, primarily led by the Arlington Great Southwest Rotary. One of the past presidents of the Great Southwest Rotary Club, Marine Lt. Col. James W. Persons, lived near Veterans Park and took note that the City had a veterans park that did not have a flag pole.  His concern about the lack of a flag pole became a topic of discussion at the Club’s weekly meetings.  The result was that Col. Persons, joined by past presidents, Michael Love and Albert Ross of this Rotary Club, decided the installation of a flag pole in the park was a worthy project to be sponsored by their Rotary Club. 

With encouragement from the City’s Parks Department and the Rotary Club Board of Directors, the services of Schrickel, Rollins and Associates, Inc. (SRA), a nationally recognized landscape architectural firm with headquarters in Arlington, was brought into consultation about the project.  Their first recommendation was to expand the project design to three (3) flag poles – one each for the United States, Texas and the City of Arlington flags.  This was approved with the design and location within the park commissioned.  The design architect at SRA was James Post, also a veteran.  About the time the first design proposals were received from Mr. Post, he unexpectedly passed away.  As a memorial to their employee and his prior military service, the management at SRA expanded the scope of their engagement on this flag pole project, assigned Ron Horton as project manager and developed a comprehensive Veterans Memorial Plan for the project which was approved by the Rotary Club Committee of Persons, Love and Ross.  These events occurring in 2005, led to the chartering of a Texas non-profit corporation, GSW ROTARY MEMORIAL PARK FOUNDATION, operating under the assumed name of Arlington Veterans Park Foundation, together with approval from the Internal Revenue Service of a n IRS 501(c)(3) tax exemption as a charitable foundation.

The Veterans Park Memorial Park Foundation is a non-member corporate entity whose initial Board of Directors were James W. Persons, Albert C. Ross and Michael Love.  The initial officers were:

                                    James W. Persons                            President

                                    Albert C. Ross                                  Vice President

                                    Michael Love                                    Secretary

                                    Les Williams                                      Treasurer

Fundraising projects were initiated and the overall scope of the project was expanded to include all of the Rotary Clubs in Arlington as co-sponsors of the project. 

In an effort to obtain community involvement in the project, a Veterans Park Memorial Advisory Committee was organized with Tom Cravens, Emory Estes, Kent Grusendorf, Wendell Nedderman, Al Rollins, Hugh Ross and Marti VanRavenswaay all volunteering to serve.

The purpose of the project can best be summed up with the statement contained in the groundbreaking program held on Saturday, March 4, 2006, to-wit:

Great Southwest Rotary established the Arlington Veterans Park Foundation to facilitate the development of a memorial to honor those who served in the armed forces of the United States.  The memorial, in the City’s Veterans Park, will be a place where people may reflect on the contributions of these so honored and recognize those who made the supreme sacrifice in combat.

A joint outreach of Rotary and the community, the memorial will be fully accessible and scaled both to allow for individual meditation and to be a gathering space for special events.

The memorial will express a profound gratitude and respect for all veterans who served protecting our freedoms.

The groundbreaking ceremonies on March 4, 2006 began with a welcome by Val Gibson, Parks and Recreation Board Chair, presentation of colors by a U. S. Marine Corps Honor Guard, followed by comments from Col. Persons of the Veterans Park Foundation Board, Kathryn Wilemon, City Council District 4 and Dr. Robert Cluck, Mayor of Arlington.

By the time the groundbreaking occurred, the Foundation Board and Advisory Committee had finalized the selection of the bronze centerpiece of the memorial – a World War II soldier honoring a fallen comrade in one and a quarter scale, holding an M-1 rifle, created by nationally known sculptor Ron Moore of Mountain Home, Arkansas and cast by Schaefer Art Bronze Foundry of Arlington, Texas.

Fundraising activities began in 2006 with the groundbreaking activities in March and on Wednesday, October 4, 2006, the Foundation held a reception at the Arlington City Club to review the progress of the project and discuss future plans with those attending.  The announced goal was to have a formal dedication of the Memorial in the fall of 2007, with fundraising to continue.  The plans proposed by SRA were to be undertaken in phases, subject to funds availability.  Phase I was to be the installation of the three flag poles and related paving areas and installation of the brick pavers sold to date.  Phase II was to be the pad site and elevated pedestal for the bronze WWII figure and columns.  Phase III was to be the walkway down the hill to the south with the large circle area with the star in the center –designed to accommodate the installation of a large number of commemorative brick pavers.  Phase IV was to be the construction of the colonnades as shown in the architectural rendering on the last page of this History.

As of  – July 2011 – Phases I and II have been completed.  Also, preliminary plans from SRA indicate that Phase III will have approximately 291 cubic yards of concrete work with a rough estimated cost of around $350,000 for completion.  We are presently evaluating the fundraising options.

As reflected in the IRS Form 990 filed with the IRS, our Foundation had gifts, grants and contributions of $46,146 in 2006 and $70,279 in 2007.  This enabled us to hold the formal dedication of the project on November 10, 2007.  Mr. Bart Thompson of Thompson Construction had been selected as project supervisor with our Foundation being listed as the General Contractor for bonding purposes.  Construction of Phase I and basic concrete work on Phase II had been completed at the time of the dedication ceremonies.  Special thanks were given to the Advisory Committee and appreciation given to the Star Telegram, SRA, C & C Concrete, Thompson Construction and General Motors.  The dedication ceremonies and program were similar to the groundbreaking event in March 2006.

A little background information on the project might be of interest –

The location of the main part of the memorial – the WWII bronze – ended up on a section of the park that was primarily a red clay soil.  The soil test mandated that the entire pad site be excavated to a depth of six feet and then refilled with select fill.  Then the engineering studies called for eight 14 inch diameter piers with steel re-bar cages to be poured with five-sack concrete, with the piers to go through the clay formation for about two feet into the next layer of soil.  The next layer was a shale formation forty – that is 40 – feet down.  Thus, the pedestal upon which our bronze WWII soldier stands is supported by eight, 14 inch, steel reinforced concrete piers over 40 feet deep.  These piers are directly under the eight columns located on the Memorial. 

Also, the Memorial is lighted at night.  The electrical service is supplied underground and there are three separate circuits which come from the power source located a little over 400 feet southwest of the Memorial.  These circuits feed into a junction box, above ground, between the power source and the Memorial.  The design allows for the future power needs for Phases III and IV of the Memorial project.  Design specifications called for three parallel 1 ¼ inch PVC conduits, each with three #6 copper conductors.  The code and specifications would not allow the nine conductors to be run in one conduit. 

The City’s Parks Department supplied the irrigation system around the Memorial and maintains the landscape around the Memorial in the excellent condition you will always find it.  Also, since the flags are lighted at night, they fly 24-7 and are replaced whenever needed.  The Memorial bronze weighs in at about 800 pounds, cost just under $70,000 installed and is named Price of Freedom by artist Ron Moore.  The columns came from Aristone Designs in Tempe, Arizona, cost $12,800 delivered with installation costs of $8,500.  The terrazzo covering the Memorial, including maintenance to date, cost $33,000.  The brick pavers, with installation, to date total $10,828 with that cost offset by brick paver income to date being $11,985 as of December 31, 2008.  At this writing, we are out of space for additional brick.

During the fundraising activities through December 31, 2009, the Foundation raised a total of $221,315 from all sources.  This includes $68,000 in grants from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation which really helped keep our project going.  The annual breakdown is:

2006    -           $46,146

2007    -           $70,279

2008    -           $70,360

2009    -           $34,530

2010    -           $00,000

In addition to the dollars that are reflected in our books, there have been an extraordinary amount of donated time, talent and goods that are not reflected in the books and records.  Since inception, all of the Board members and officers have served without compensation and also without asking for reimbursement of incidental expenses paid out of pocket.  Additionally, the members of the Advisory Committee have donated time and expertise without any expectation of compensation.  The staff at SRA – especially Ron Horton – donated time and effort of a value far in excess what was billed to the Foundation for design, blueprint preparation and consultation on this project.  Also, the members of Arlington’s Rotary Clubs -- especially Arlington Great Southwest – truly personified the Rotary concept of “service above self”.  It would be difficult to list everyone who has contributed to the project but some deserve to be recognized for their volunteer service to this Memorial project:

Martha Ragsdale – Great Southwest Rotary member – donated significant graphic design expertise to our logo and event programs.

Don Illingsworth – Great Southwest Rotary member – donated engineering consultation as well as survey lay out of the Memorial at the park.

Jason Landrum – City Parks Department, former Great Southwest Rotary member – assisted in every way imaginable on the project.

Col. Larry Munsie – Great Southwest Rotary Member – prepared historic research on Arlington area veterans, including KIA and MOH lists.

James D. Runzheimer – Great Southwest Rotary Member – main event coordinator and ramrod for our November 11 Veterans Day events.

Les Williams – former Great Southwest Rotary member – continues to serve as volunteer Treasurer for the Foundation.

Martin Sanchez – City Parks Department – onsite guardian of the Memorial and always available on short notice to assist in every possible way.

Randy Ford – J. Gilligan’s Restaurant – for supplying tents for the November 11 events.

Jimmy Harris – David’s Barbecue – donation of staff and barbecue dinners for November 11 Veterans Day ceremonies.

Grace Lutheran Church and Rev. Hildbrandt – donation of chairs and tables for the November 11 ceremonies.

Judge Brent A. Carr – donation of Cowtown Music Club for the live entertainment of those attending the November 11 ceremonies.

Dick Malec – former Great Southwest Rotary member – assisting in fundraising efforts and main coordinator on J. Gilligan’s Restaurant and David’s Barbecue donations.

Burly Walker – Great Southwest Rotary member – steadfast support to the Memorial and record keeper on brick paver donors and installation of bricks.

Mike Love – Great Southwest Rotary member – officer and director to the Foundation, always cheerfully reliable and supportive of the Memorial – maintains all meeting minutes.

Brian Cotter – Great Southwest Rotary member – gathered information, wrote, edited and produced summary of Club veterans to be distributed at 2010 Veterans Day event.

Col Jim Persons – Great Southwest Rotary member – director and first President of our Foundation – mentor to the entire project – maintained everyone’s focus on the goals even when he became so ill, survived just past our first November 11 Veterans Day event.

Finally, this History would not be complete without mention of the annual Veterans Day events sponsored by the Great Southwest Rotary Club on November 11 with ceremonies scheduled at 11:00 a.m.  The first annual event was held on November 11, 2009 at the Memorial and was attended by a little over 300.  Mayor Robert Cluck welcomed those present after the invocation.  The featured speaker was Col. Mark Toal, USMC, District Commanding Officer, 8th Marine Corp District, Fort Worth, who made an inspiring address.  Also, Col. James Stone, U. S. Army Retired and Medal of Honor recipient, was in attendance with the Korean War Veterans Association.  The Cowtown Music Club provided live music entertainment both before and after the schedule of events.  A fly-by of a Navy jet trainer brought a fitting end to the event with the complimentary noon day barbecue furnished by David’s Barbecue.

The second annual Veterans Day event commenced at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 2010 at the Memorial with an estimated 400 in attendance.  Music again furnished by the Cowtown Music Club.  The featured speaker was Bell Helicopter CEO, John L. Garrison, a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy.  He discussed the long standing tradition of the U. S. military service by several generations of his family and the importance of such service to the country as well as the individual.  His uplifting and patriotic remarks were an inspiration and encouragement to all present.  The conclusion of the celebration of Veterans Day 2010 was followed by a complimentary lunch barbecue furnished by David Harris.



                                                     ALBERT C. ROSS

Postscript by Michael Love

This summary should also include the unceasing dedication by the Foundation’s President, Albert Ross. Albert has taken on the incredible task of continuing the focus and attention of the advisory groups and various committees through the inception of the concept and has graciously shared his office and staff in support of the memorial over the years. In orchestrating the corporation’s charter and tax exempt certification, the project’s success hinges greatly on his service. This also shares his dedication to our country complimented by his years of service as an Air Force Veteran. We are grateful for his valued focus and diplomatic skill through the years.              






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