Book by Webbs Norman explores history of Rockford Park District
After 34 years on the job, Webbs Norman, retired executive director of the Rockford Park District, put all of his lessons learned into a 348-page hardcover book titled Building a Lasting Dream 1909 to 2009: A History of the Rockford Park District.
The full-color book includes interesting facts, hundreds of historical and modern-day photos of local parks, as well as a comprehensive appendix with maps, charts and names of good friends of the district. It is more than a recitation of dates and land acquisitions — it is a true story filled with eloquent leaders, an engaged citizenry and the occasional mishaps that happened along the way.
Norman began his career at the Rockford Park District in 1955 as a seasonal employee working at the summer playground program when he was home from college. In 1972, Norman began his 34-year career as executive director of the Rockford Park District, and helped shape it into an award-winning and nationally-acclaimed park system.
“Hopefully, the people who read it will enjoy it and get something from it, as we did from all the efforts to prepare,” Norman said. “It was very important to me to get this into writing for citizens who are interested, and the employees who provide the service. I think that a public agency that doesn’t inform all of the employees about its history and culture cannot be effective public servants without this knowledge.”
Book-signing event Jan. 11
Be one of the first to purchase a copy of Norman’s newly-released book. Norman will appear at a book-signing from 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 11, at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. Second St., Rockford. The public is welcome to attend. Books can be purchased at Garden Gate Gifts, inside Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, for a $20 donation.
Book sale proceeds benefit the Rockford Park District Foundation, which assists the Rockford Park District by securing philanthropic support on its behalf, and enhancing awareness of the district’s benefits to the community.
Purchasing a book
Beginning Thursday, Jan. 12, Building a Lasting Dream 1909 to 2009: A History of the Rockford Park District can be purchased at the following locations:
• Webbs Norman Center, 401 S. Main St., Rockford;
• Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Road, Loves Park; and
• Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. Second St., Rockford.
What others are saying about the book
“Understanding the 100-year development of the Rockford Park District provides great perspective on the history and development of Rockford. Thus, this book has value for anyone who links our great history to the current state of the community.” — Jack Becherer, president of Rock Valley College
“It is fascinating to read how the forces that propelled the nation in times of prosperity and want, in war and peace, impacted the decisions and programs of the Rockford Park District and, thus, all of us.” — Jim Keeling, attorney and president of the Rockford Park District Foundation
“The book offers facts and surprises. I liked the surprises the best, especially how an elephant’s appetite put a zoo out of business, and the tale of the trolley that (almost) couldn’t. If you live and play here, these are stories you should know.” — Nancy Sylvester, former CEO of Rockford Chamber of Commerce
For more details, contact Rockford Park District’s Customer Service at (815) 987-8800 or visit www.rockford-parkdistrict.org.
From the Jan. 11-17, 2012, issue
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