DeKalb Park Named for Family Farm

October 1, 2018

DeKALB – Patti Wright Cronin has vivid memories of playing and working on her family’s farm on what is now the Devonaire Farms subdivision in DeKalb.

But after the land was donated to the DeKalb County Community Foundation and later sold to a developer, she hadn’t been back to the area for years. On Saturday, Wright Cronin and her family returned to DeKalb from their Madison, Wisconsin, home to see the Devonaire Farms Park was officially renamed to honor her family.

The DeKalb Park District held a brief ceremony to unveil the new name of the park, which will now be known as the Wright Farm Park in honor of Wright Cronin’s family.

“I have so many wonderful memories here and spent many years on the farm as a child,” she said. “I’m thrilled because I see the vibrancy in this community. It’s a park where children are playing, so I’m very pleased that my family is being honored.”

Wright Cronin’s parents, Richard and Dorothy Wright, gifted the 173-acre farm to the DeKalb County Community Foundation after Dorothy Wright’s death in 1995. The foundation sold the land to a developer in 1998, and the proceeds from the sale were used to establish the Richard A. and Dorothy Thiele Wright Endowment Fund, which has awarded more than $1 million in grants to community nonprofit organizations and projects since its inception 20 years ago.

Dan Templin, executive director of the DeKalb County Community Foundation, said Wright Cronin approached him two years ago about doing something in the development to recognize her family’s contribution. Templin said he thought renaming the park would be a fitting tribute, so he worked with the park district and the Devonaire Farms’ Homeowners Association to make it a reality.

“It was immediately obvious to me how important it would be to recognize the significance of the family’s donation,” he explained. “This park has a much more meaningful name now. It honors the history of the land that had an agricultural purpose for decades.”

Park board President Phil Young explained that the decision to rename parks isn’t made lightly. He said that park names should have a significant reason and history behind them, and he felt that renaming the park after the Wright family was the right thing to do.

“There has to be a justified reason to name a park after someone,” he said. “In this case, the Wright family donated their farm, and it’s a great example of charitable donations, and this is a way to thank them.”

Amanda Tran, Wright Cronin’s niece and granddaughter of Richard and Dorothy Thiele Wright, remembers visiting her grandparents on the farm when she was a child. She said renaming the park was a beautiful tribute to them.

“I spent every holiday here, and I still have pictures of me climbing on the windmill,” Tran said. “This is an incredibly special honor.”

Before the park could be renamed, it also had to have the approval of the development’s homeowner’s association. Guillermo Rojo, a homeowner’s association board member and park neighbor, said that everyone on the board supported the request to rename the park.

“I think this is a nice gesture and a good way to give back to the family. It’s definitely worth doing,” he said.

Another neighbor, Gracia Polarek, said she walks her dog in the park about three times a day, and was happy to attend the renaming ceremony.

“This is a beautiful, well-kept park and I think the Wright family deserves to have it named for them,” she said.

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