Our project suffered one delay after another. One year turned into two, and two into three. During that period the RSA’s Deputy Director, Bill Walsh, died and Dr. Bronner was suddenly beset with remorse over the way he had treated him. He directed that we name the park for him, but the title “Pavilion Park” was already engraved in granite. We scrambled to get a new dedicatory tablet for Walsh.
Early in December of 1999, we finally managed to get a delivery commitment from the foundry in Colorado, and thus worked up enough confidence to ask Bronner for a dedication date. That would be the day the RSA would unveil all our tablets and reveal to the world exactly which six people had been selected to be honored in our park. Only then would we be subject to the sticks and stones of the history zealots.
Instead of setting a date, Dr. Bronner sent us to the Widow Walsh with instructions that she pick a day when all her family could attend the dedication. She selected January 6th, and our project proceeded into an entirely new phase. Suddenly, PH&J’s job was expanded to include the printing of a dedicatory brochure, locating and inviting descen-dants of the honorees, and inviting the Mayor and other dignitaries. In addition we were to secure a PA system, rent chairs, arrange transportation from the parking deck to the park, and tend to a host of other matters. We were even charged to engage a caterer and plan a reception to follow the dedication.
Bill Stephens, by then promoted from RSA’s General Counsel to Deputy Director, suggested that we enlist the aid of Greta Chambless to design the dedication brochure and handle other routine matters pertaining to the dedication. Greta was a secretary in the RSA legal department, and obviously a protégé of Bill Stephens. We accepted the Stephens suggestion and Greta saved PH&J much time and effort. She did a creditable job on the dedication brochure and the invitation, after PH&J supplied her with color photos of all the honorees, photos of the park, photos of the seven flags, and the research text. PH&J (i.e., Ren Jones) even located the patriarch descendant of each honoree to whom Greta could send a stack of invitations. But, boy, was Greta naive.
Greta even prepared a press release to go out three weeks before the event, but she felt demeaned if it had to be shown to Ren and myself. After all, she was on the RSA staff and we were not. The release went out sans our review and –gad–it included the name of all six honorees. Greta forgot that it was a secret.
Melissa Montealegre, the Advertiser reporter, called me at home that night for comments and to gloat. When I refused to talk about the honorees, she swelled up and said, “I have to admit that I already have the names!” I was devastated. The next day when the article appeared, Ren was devastated; Dr. Bronner was devastated. We braced for an extra three weeks of punishment, knowing full well that no choice could satisfy the obstreperous group of historians and zealots. Besides that, the early release took away a lot of excitement over our dedication.
The next day Mary Ann Neeley called me and was ecstatic. She reported that General Will Hill Tankersley and John Napier had called her and both had expressed great delight in our choice of unsung honorees. Tankersley had even recovered from my refusal to pursue his ship’s mast theme. Maybe we would survive this thing after all.
-Charles Humphries (“Peril and Intrigue Within Architecture”)