Richard Ray All-America Park
Richard Ray All-America Park History
Richard L. Ray was a dedicated Citizen, a visionary, and a statesman dedicated to making Jacksonville all it could be. He left a legacy of being a good businessman, a devoted husband, and father as well as an esteemed civic leader. To some, he was a builder of businesses, industry and roads. But his vision embraced more than bricks and mortar; it was the fulfillment of a dream to make Jacksonville the community where all could call home, even if here only for a few years as a military connected resident. It was his vision that generated new economic activity.
This very location was facilitated in part by his hand in developing Western Boulevard’s extension. He saw jobs creation as part of the land he developed. He saw development driving action that would improve the community. His work stimulated residential development and opportunities for the city and county to expand recreation and education facilities.
He was supportive of civic and benevolent causes and cheered the designation of this community as an All-America City in 1992. To honor his welcome to all Citizens of Jacksonville, whether temporary or permanent, and his dedication to the dream of our community as a better place, the creation of this park was envisioned to continue his welcome by providing a bit of a reminder of what some residents recall as home.
A member of the Jacksonville New River Rotary, he gave freely of his time to the Chamber of Commerce, was active in his church and was a proud father of two sons and devoted to his wife. His benevolence was well known. And it was personal. In 1992, he drove a truck of donated supplies to the victims of Hurricane Andrew in Florida. He died in a boating accident on the New River August 23, 1996.
Dewey Edwards and John Pierce, who had worked with Ray in development and civic projects led a fundraising effort for this park with then City Manager Jerry Bittner. The Richard Ray All-America Park was dedicated Friday, July 11, 2003. The shelter was funded in part by the Rotary Clubs of Jacksonville and dedicated in March 2005.
Today the park offers a variety of amenities including the City’s first Meditation Labyrinth, an Amphitheater and two picnic shelters. A good portion of the 7-acre site includes the Gardens of the States with horitcultural examples from seven regions of the United States. Pathways define the regions and kiosks are located along the path for educational purposes. Through the tree line you will find a large playground fully equipped and carved in the shape of North Carolina.