New park on the way in Opp

Published 12:44 am Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dozens of friends and family members gathered inside the Opp Historical Society’s History House Monday to celebrate the city’s rich history with the dedication of Donaldson Park and to honor one of the city’s greatest supporters — Dr. Miriam Evers Donaldson.

Donaldson’s passing on Wed., Oct. 15, 2008, marked the end of a life well lived and a life filled with enormous generosity.

“We brought some more chairs into the room, because we thought we might need some more and it looks like we needed them,” Phillip Stanley, president of the Opp Historical Society, said at opening of the ceremony. “I said I hoped that was the problem we had. This is just wonderful. I am very pleased to see so many people here today to honor Miriam, many of you from out of town. All of you are special for being here and it would mean a lot to Miriam.”

Donaldson was the last of seven generations of her family who lived and prospered in Covington and Coffee counties in farming and related agricultural businesses — a prosperity that she readily gave back to the city during her final years in the form of land donations to the First Baptist Church, Lurleen B. Wallace Community College’s MacArthur campus and the 2.4 acres of land that will soon become Donaldson Park.

“I just think it is a good situation,” said Mickey Crew, councilman and mayor pro-tem, of the dedication and remembrance of Donaldson. “I think the city and the historical society should work together to preserve our history. I think we need to honor the legacies of people like Miriam. We have had a number of citizens who have meant a lot to the community over the years. I think it is really great we can get together and honor these folks.

“She always kept up with the city of Opp and the History House. She really had this community in her heart. She shared a lot of things with me that I didn’t know about Opp. I have only been here for 32 years. I did not know quite as much as she knew. I really truly believe she would be very pleased with the recognition she is receiving today.”

Opp Historical Society member Lucille Foley said that Donaldson deeded the land to the city on Dec. 11, 2007, under the stipulation that certain requests be satisfied.

“She asked that the park be named in honor of her family and must be accessible to the public,” he said. “Miriam was always concerned with promoting the history of Opp.”

Scott Ferguson, pastor of Westview Baptist Church in Opp, said Donaldson also placed her family and friends before herself and the donation of land to city was just one small example of her generous spirit.

“I was out of town with my family when Miriam passed,” he said. “I really struggled with coming back to be a part of the service. She had told me before I left for a mission trip to South Africa, that if I was out of town with family or on a mission when she passed to not come back. She said there would be another opportunity to say nice things about her.”

Donaldson Park is currently in the early planning stages, Stanley said, and the Opp Historical Society is discussing what will be included on the 2.4 acres of space.

“We have a lot of work to do and a lot of plans,” Stanley said. “It is going to take a little while. I do not want to set a date, but we will complete it as soon as possible.”