Historic visit: four generations of Smith Park's namesake

Date: 
10/18/2019
SmithPrkHist

Patrick Smith (3rd from r) holds picture of his grandfather Joseph. (Left to right) David Jr. "DJ" Ramos, Nicholas Ramos, David Ramos, Smith, Omar Williams and Joshua Ramos.  

For many people involved with Smith Park, 2526 West Grand Ave., history came alive with a unique visit from four generations of Smiths. 

It all began with a phone call between Debbie Smith and Smith Park's Advisory Council (SPAC) President David Ramos. "Joseph Higgins Smith served as Alderman of the 32nd Ward in Chicago from 1914 to 1933. His only son's daughter-in-law Debbie, whose husband is Patrick, called to say that they would like to visit the Park. 

"I contacted the Chicago Park District Superintendent’s Office and to the Smith Park Staff. They all worked together in accommodating the family." 

Patrick Smith was accompanied by his children and grandchildren. They wanted to do more than honor and pay tribute to their family member. They wanted "to thank and give their respects to all of our U.S. Service men and women (past and present) that the park loves, cherishes and admires."

Giving the visitors an overview of various activities, programs and special events that take place at the park throughout the year, staff members Frank Bogatitus and Nancy Villagomez led the tour which included the entire park including the field-house, swimming pool, tennis courts in addition to the baseball and rugby fields. They were also accompanied by other SPAC members, park staff members as well as park and neighborhood families. Newly appointed 10th District State Representative Omar Williams joined in on the tour welcoming them all to his district.

After the tour, the family showed photos of Joseph with Chicago’s 44th Mayor Anton Cermak and another prestigious and historical figures including President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. 

The family then gratefully and appreciatively presented Ramos and the Smith Park staff with a photograph of their grandfather. It will be hung in the field house so that the Smith Park community and visitors can have more of a connection to the park's heritage.

"With time passing as fast as it does, it is sometimes difficult to remember names and faces. But at Smith Park, no one will forget Joseph Higgins Smith and his contributions to Chicago and to our communities," said Ramos. 

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