IN DUKE’S HONORPublished 12:02am Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Late Saturday morning, the newest addition at Johnson Park will be dedicated in honor of the late Durrell “Duke” Smith.
Measuring 30-feet by 52-feet, the pavilion will be named after Smith by City of Andalusia officials at a ceremony starting at 11:30 a.m.
The idea of erecting the pavilion and naming it for Smith came because the former assistant superintendent of parks and recreation was an “icon for our youth sports program,” Mayor Earl Johnson said.
“One of the things he really enjoyed doing was having picnics and barbecues at Johnson Park,” he said. “We needed pavilion near the new (Miracle League) playground, and so it just seemed fitting to me, in honor of Duke’s years with the city and in particular in regards to his relationships he had with our young folks, to name that pavilion in his honor.”
Smith died in December 2012 of a sudden heart attack.
Johnson, per the city council’s approval of erecting the pavilion, made the announcement at Smith’s funeral, held in the Kiwanis Center and attended by an estimated 1,000 people.
Andy Wiggins, City of Andalusia’s Director of Planning and Development, said the building process started last summer. As of Monday afternoon, workers were putting the finishing touches on the wooden structure.
“We were getting donations from various people for the pavilion, and we pretty much really wanted to do it this spring, so we would have everything up and ready, and going for this season,” Wiggins said.
Saturday marks opening day for the city’s baseball and softball rec leagues, and Wiggins said it was intentional to have the dedication on opening day.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” he said. “We wanted to target opening day and make sure we had it ready for them.”
Johnson said there wasn’t a formal campaign asking people to give funds to help pay for the pavilion.
“Friends of Duke’s heard about the pavilion,” Johnson said. “We really didn’t have any formal campaign as such to raise funds. A lot of people heard about it and made contributions. It certainly made building it a lot sooner than other wise.”
Wiggins said having the pavilion will help immortalize Smith’s memory.
“For us, it basically memorializes what he meant and, how big of an asset and value he was as not only a city employee, but to the community as a whole,” Wiggins said. “He did so much good for so many people. He loved what he did and he loved the people, and kids he worked with. It just seems fitting for something to be in his honor so that the people can enjoy it.”