• 66°

Rec. building renamed for Wall

Roland B. Wall’s family members and friends agreed that if hewere still alive, the humble man who loved the Brookhaven Parks andRecreation Department would have been pleased but a little sheepishduring a Saturday ceremony in his honor.

“He’d probably give all the credit to someone else,” said hisdaughter, Jenna Wall. “He would have been embarrassed by all theattention, but he would have been really grateful that therecreation department wanted to honor him like this.”

Saturday’s ceremony, held inside due to the weather, was todedicate the current Brookhaven Parks and Recreation Building onHighway 51 to the memory of the man who was the president of theBrookhaven Parks Commission for 42 years – from 1963-2005. A marblemarker will be put outside the door to commemorate thededication.

Son Roland B. Wall III, of Clinton, said his father, a realtorby trade, would have taken great pleasure in the award because therecreation department meant so much to him.

“This would have been so meaningful to him because he wasprouder of what he did on this commission than anything else he didin his whole life,” he said. “This is so meaningful to us becauseof what it would have meant to him.”

Recreation Department Director Terry Reid told the crowd of morethan 40 people that Wall was responsible for almost everythinggoing on with the department today.

“Last week we cut the ribbon on our walking trail, and that wasthe last project he really gave himself to during his time here,”said Reid. “Everything we have now, Roland Wall had a part in.We’re working on two spray parks and we just got a grant to build apark at Bethel Church, and all these things come from groundwork helaid.”

Wall’s widow, Claire Wall, who lives in Clinton now, said she isglad the organization that her husband loved so much loved him inreturn.

“I’m overwhelmed. This truly means a lot,” she said. “I saw himdo all this and love every single minute of it.”

Current parks commission president Woody Breeland said heremembered Wall not only as a great leader for the board, but alsoas a coach and mentor.

“I remember him being at a second-grade track meet in 1966,” hesaid. “Roland was a realtor by profession and in the business ofraising our kids as a passion. If you grew up in Brookhaven, youhad your life touched and enriched by Roland Wall.”

Breeland also read letters from Mayor Bob Massengill andAlderman at-large Les Bumgarner, who were both out of town for theweekend. They wrote the dedication was not only a fitting, but aperfect tribute to the man who gave his life to Brookhaven’schildren.

“If Roland were here, he’d say, ‘Go ahead with your trip, Coach,I understand,'” Bumgarner wrote. “The apple of his eye was theBrookhaven Recreation Department. He will be loved and missed foras long as any of us grace the face of this earth.”

Reid remembered when he took over as recreation director thatWall had been there as support and instruction, as well as a goodribbing.

“He told me, ‘You’ve got big shoes to fill, you’ve got big shoesto fill,'” said Reid, who succeeded longtime director Hansel King.”Then after a few weeks he changed his tune to, ‘Don’t worry ’boutit boy, you’re going to make it fine.'”

And old friend Richard Case entertained the group with endearingstories about Wall and his love for his family, his dogs, hisplanes, Ole Miss football and the recreation department.

“He loved his family, that was always really evident,” Casesaid. “And he loved his dogs. Anytime you saw Roland, he had atleast one of his dogs with him.”

Case also pointed out that Wall was Brookhaven High Schoolgraduate and NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Lance Alworth’s firstfootball coach. Roland Wall III agreed that his father’sinvolvement with Alworth was the only thing that rivaled hisfather’s pride in his work with the recreation department.

“He put his whole life into this, and it meant so much to him,”he said. “He wasn’t prouder of anything in his life, except maybecoaching Lance Alworth.”