Lt. Colonel Lorwyn E. Peterson – Park #73

I have said it before and I’ve got to say it again.. I meet the kindest people when writing and researching these stories.  When details are scant; I go looking for folks.  

This time I found the Atwell family who are direct relations of Lorwyn Peterson. It was a great pleasure to meet you personally!! 

Thanks again for the tidbits of information and the use of the photos.  

Truly – ag

PS. We will get to Fred Nagle next..

PETE IN CHARGE

Location: Pickford, Curtis and Greenfield

Lorwyn Elwyn Peterson (1908-1945) graduated from Michigan State College in 1930 with a degree in Business Administration. The son of Elwyn and Marie, he was raised in Brooklyn, a small town located in the Irish Hills area of Michigan.

 Photo of Lorwyn Peterson
The courageous and faithful Lt. Colonel Lorwyn Elwyn “Pete” Peterson circa 1943. Photo with kind permission from the Atwell Family.

Peterson enlisted for duty in World War II and rose rank to Lieutenant Colonel and Commander of the 716th Tank Battalion, 43rd Infantry Armored Division. Peterson’s relatives tell us he was to be made a full Colonel, however preferred to stay on with the men he trained for duty.    Continue reading “Lt. Colonel Lorwyn E. Peterson – Park #73”

Dr. Archibald Warren Diack – Park 13

FATHER OF THE FIRST UNOFFICIAL DETROIT PLAYGROUND

The Diack family has deep roots in Detroit.  They were a clan that used intelligence and creativity to make things happen.  Let’s refer to them as ‘a family of doers’.

THE BASICS

There were three generations of men that bore the name Archibald Warren Diack – a father, his son, and a grandson.  They were known as Arch and Archie – never the formal Archibald.

a park

Archibald Warren Diack [Sr.] was a Scottish immigrant born in 1838.  He served in the Civil War and later worked as a molder for the Michigan Stove Co.  Diack became interested in labor unions and was successful at forming a union at the plant where he worked.  Eventually, workers struck and all men settled except for Diack – a lone holdout.  Diack was known as a stubborn man, not to compromise.  The stove company considered his influence and stature among the other workers; they settled with him separately.    Obviously he was a man of principle and action and he raised some remarkably driven children too.

His eldest son, Alexander Diack stopped school to work, but later resumed his studies becoming a successful becoming a dentist and a steamship operator.  He pursued his love of skating and was considered an expert figure skater and curler.  He studied criminal law and was one of the first and outspoken advocates that worked to appeal the prohibition amendment. Sweetly, he created a bird sanctuary at his home in Birmingham, MI.

THE NAMESAKE

Born in 1870, Dr. Archibald W. Diack [Jr.] was multi-talented.  He earned degrees in both Dentistry and Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan.  At heart, he was an entrepreneur and an inventor.  He opened his own laboratory in Detroit in 1909 and later formed a partnership resulting in Diack & Smith (Chemical Engineers and Analysts) in Detroit in 1920. He designed a sterilization system for bandages that was adopted by hospitals across the United States and by the US Navy.  The Diack Sterilization Monitor business continues on today in 2013.  Before he could forge these accomplishments, Archie served as a Seaman aboard the USS Yosemite in the Spanish American War.  The crew on this ship was considered highly educated with approximately 46 men serving from the University of Michigan.

His most unspoken accomplishment was his concern for others-  especially youth.  During his days as a dentist, the family lived at 942 Congress between Mount Elliot and Leib St.  This beautiful address was marked by elm lined streets where neighbors tended to French Pear trees in their yards and well-spoken parrots perched on the large front porches.  Back in the day, the neighborhood to the south – the Franklin Settlement – was considered somewhat rough and tumble; the other side of the tracks.  Little was available for young men in regards to recreation. Diack befriended the boys of the Franklin Settlement, found them a field, and provided some sporting activities and games.  He created one of the first unofficial playgrounds in Detroit.  He impressed the importance of education upon them.  Ultimately, he made a difference in their lives as many of them became prominent businessmen.  Arch passed in 1946.

EPILOGUE

Archibald Jr. had two sons who both became doctors. Archibald [III] [1907-1993] and was the one of the first persons to conceive of an automated electronic defibrillator; he held the patent.   In 1937, he moved from Detroit to Portland, Oregon where he began a long career as a private physician.  In Portland, Dr. Diack became heavily involved in environmental stewardship founding a recreational coalition and river basin education project.  His strong advocacy for protection of the Sandy River Basin resulted in the “Diack Decision” by the Oregon Supreme Court which changed water laws.   Before his death, he began the Diack Family Ecology Fund to sustain his environmental work after he took his last breath.

The park that honors Dr. A. W. Diack  is located between Thatcher and Curtis -just north of Outer Drive in Northwest Detroit. It was dedicated on August 10, 1950 many of the ‘Franklin Boys’ attended the dedication ceremony.  Personally, I think this park honors the entire Diack family who gave of themselves to make Detroit and the world a better and more interesting place.

Detroit needs to channel that Diack spirit right now.

Alice Nesbitt Gorham – Park 6

PRESS AGENT / MARKETING GURU 

Alice Gorham would have loved the newer sign currently hanging at her playground at the corner of Pembroke and St. Mary’s in Detroit..  The bright yellow background with red funky lettering screams marketing.

Dedicated to Allice Nesbitt Gorham
Dedicated to Alice Nesbitt Gorham

As a press agent for more than 30 years, Alice Gorham had an exciting and successful Detroit career.  She worked for Fred Grennell’s advertising agency before being lured to Channel 7 WXYZ-TV Detroit where she wrote newscasts, publicity, and the scripts for then station produced show “Hollywood Highlights”.   In 1933, her boss was awarded a contract to manage a group of Detroit movie theaters [then known as movie palaces] – the Michigan, United Artists, State, Fisher, Rivera, Eastown  and  Ramona Theaters.  Alice quickly became the head of advertising for this theater group and staged the most interesting and outrageous marketing to draw in the entertainment seeking market.

CREATIVE AND CIVIC MINDED

In addition to her busy career, Alice co-authored music.  She was the publicist and a booster of The Old Newsboys of Detroit whose main mission was to collect toys for needy children at Christmastime.   For many years, a literature rack bearing her name stood in the lobby of the Mariner’s Church  in downtown Detroit.  Alice was loved by the Old Newsboys and she loved them in return by providing her services pro bono.  In April 1950, she was selected to be on the planning committee for the City of Detroit’s 250th Anniversary celebration.

Mrs. Gorham passed away in 1957 shortly after the death of her beloved husband, Glenn.   She is buried in Lake City Cemetery, Lake City MI.  By 1959, the Detroit Common Council passed a resolution to dedicate a playground to honor the memory of this busy entertainment woman who touched Detroit in interesting and creative ways.

Copyright 2013. © Andrea Gallucci  All rights reserved. 

Joesph Bale Playfield – Park # 2

Joseph Bale WWII Veteran

Joseph Bale

World War II Veteran and good buddy

Joseph Bale WWII Veteran
Private First Class Bale

When you are traveling down Greenfield Road, turn west onto Margareta or Clarita Street and you will immediately stumble onto the Joe Bale Playfield.   While a student at Michigan State University, “Little Joe” Bale enlisted for duty in World War II.  He served with the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Regiment of the 3rd Division in the invasion of Anzio, Italy and Southern France.  A few weeks after turning 21 years, Bale lost his life in the fierce Battle of Colmar Pocket on January 30, 1945 near Wihr-en-Plaine, France.

Bale’s battalion was attacked by enemy tanks.  He fearlessly returned fire with his rocket launcher, ignoring shells exploding five yards away and machine gun bullets.  Joe knocked out an enemy tank, forcing the Germans to withdraw. Later, the same morning his battalion was again attacked by another tank at 100 yards.  Again, he braved shell fire in another single-handed attempt to destroy the tank; unfortunately he was mortally wounded.   Joe Bale’s courage was posthumously honored with the Distinguished Service Cross.

Not forgotten

Veterans, relatives and friends formed The Pfc. Joseph Bale Post 474 on June 9, 1946 – affiliated with the Jewish War Veterans Association of Michigan.  Within two years, the post grew to over 100 members  and eventually became the largest JWVA post in the Michigan.  In 1953, Bale’s memory was honored with the dedication of this Detroit park.  Mayor Albert Cobo, Rabbi Morris Adler, his parents and Post 474 members were in attendance for that Wednesday evening ceremony.

Joe was known as a superior athlete at Central High School in Detroit and at college.  MSU named a dormitory building in his honor.  [The building has since been renamed.]  In 2011, the Michigan Jewish Sports Association honored both ‘Little’ Joe and his cousin ‘Big’ Joe Bale by hanging a plaque in their Hall of Fame to honor the memory of those students who served in war and for those who were never were able to fulfill their dream of competing in college sports.

As of this writing, the Joseph Bale Post 474 continues to hold monthly meetings. They remain a unified group who uphold the memory of all veterans through the fundraisers and attendance at religious and commemorative ceremonies.   Importantly, they refuse to forget the simple story of an ‘average Joe’ that rose far above the ordinary.  He gave his life fighting for his country and as a result, saved the lives of his buddies.

There are some things that are easily forgotten in 5 minutes and there are other events that can’t be forgotten across a life time.  Joe’s memory lives on.

Military photo courtesy of The Rabbi Leo M. Franklin Archive

Commemorative plaque
Joe Bale Commemorative Playground Plaque

 
Copyright 2013. © Andrea Gallucci All rights reserved.