Honoring a family member thorough park memorial

Posted: August 24th, 2018 | Featured, Features | No Comments

By Clarke Stillwagon

We have all lost someone special to us. Often we ask what we can do to honor the life that has passed? Life moves on, people move on, but the question remains. My wife and I asked ourselves that question.

While walking through Aztec Park, we noticed there were a couple of memorial benches. Benches with a name and other information in remembrance. We thought what a great way to honor a loved one and do something to benefit the park.

We contacted Misty Thompson, executive director of La Mesa Park & Recreation Foundation. We were given a form and she explained the process. We filled out and submitted the form. The staff was attentive and Thompson kept us informed throughout the process.

Memorial benches, like this one in Aztec Park, can be purchased through La Mesa Park & Recreation Foundation. (Photo by Clarke Stillwagon)

After the bench was cast and shipped to La Mesa Public Works, we were contacted by Jack Harman. We met with him and we were able to place the bench in the best location that would benefit the most people and honor our loved one. Aztec Park was his favorite park and we spent many hours at the park with him and his friends.

When the pad was ready, Harman called and let us know when he would be there to set the bench. We met him and equipment operator Jason Nye and “supervised” the placement of the bench. Harman and Nye really cared that the placement was perfect.

Placing a memorial bench in one of La Mesa’s parks is the best way one can pay respect and remembrance to a family member or friend and do something good for the community. We recommend it to anyone. Our beloved Chihuahua Paco will always have a place in our hearts and a bench at Aztec Park.

Once the bench is placed, it will be used. Some will appreciate it and some may abuse it. Shortly after our bench was placed some children defaced the bench with, fortunately, chalk.

This act was observed by a very nice lady named Shelley who was walking her dog. She was upset that the parents of these children were oblivious to what their children were doing. She went home and got some cleaning supplies, came back to the park and cleaned the mess left by the children.

Yes, the bench will be used and, yes, it may be abused but still it is a wonderful way to honor a loved one and do something good for a city park and the people who use it. Thanks again to Thompson, Harman, Nye and Shelley, who cared enough to clean the bench.

— Clarke Stillwagon is a long-time resident of La Mesa who has held a variety of jobs in the area over the years but is now retired. Reach him at

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