Family, friends gather to dedicate Kirkpatrick park

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Among the grandchildren at Saturday’s ceremony were (clockwise from left) Millicent Kirkpatrick, Sonya Jones, Cartez Hall, Orion Kirkpatrick, Kendra Kirkpatrick Penelton, and Cameron Kirkpatrick. | Michele Gerlach/Star-News

Sallie Ann Kirkpatrick’s grandchildren agreed: Their grandmother would have loved Saturday’s party dedicating the park named in her honor.

“She would be happy and proud,” said Sonya Jones, who drove from Memphis for the event.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s family gave the property and $200,000 to the city for the construction of the park, located at 208 Beatrice St. The city also received a $50,000 grant for the park. Last week, the Andalusia City Council formally named the park for Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who died in 2004. Saturday, a dedication ceremony was followed by a lunch complete with barbecue, banana pudding and iced tea.
The event reminded grandson Orion Kirkpatrick of Los Angeles of a similar event, many years ago.
“She put on a barbecue here once that was huge,” he recalled.
“There a lot of people here. I remember asking her, ‘Grandmother, who are all these people?’
“She said she didn’t know all of them, but as long as they were happy and having fun, that was OK,” he said. “She would have been so happy to see this today.”
The park preserves her memory well, he said.
“It’s classy and a good representation of her.”
Like most of the Kirkpatrick grandchildren, Orion learned to fish in the backyard pond that’s now a part of a public park.
“She made us fish to catch our dinner,” Kendra Kirkpatrick Penelton said.
“She would tell us to get out there and get busy, and when Granddaddy got here, we’d fry fish for supper.”
And while Cameron Kirkpatrick won’t say he ever caught his supper,
“I remember trying a lot,” he said.
Grandson Cartez Hall remembers lots of good food from his grandmother’s kitchen.
But his favorite was her pound cakes.
“There’s one memory I cherish,” Hall said.
“They kept the hearse parked under the carport. I was afraid of the hearse, so I would go in the front door to keep from passing it.”
Ironically, he grew up to enter the family business.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s husband, C.L. Kirkpatrick, expressed his thanks to city officials for helping  make his vision a reality.
“It’s wonderful,” he said of the final product. Asked if his wife would approve, he looked a little sheepish.
“Well,” he said, “she’d be asking me why we didn’t have a few more things, like a basketball court and a playground.”
But Kirkpatrick said he’s not done yet. And he said he’s ever so grateful to be able to give back to the community.
“In this city where I was born and raised, as a result of good teaching, we were able to do this for the community,” he said. “I’m proud my legacy will be something positive.”