Dee Memorial Park By Alec Hagen
“See that park? That’s where my dad was born.”
These words have been the cause of many puzzled expressions. But I reassure people that the park I’m pointing to really is where my dad was born. As a matter of fact, thousands of people were born in that park.
Alright, thousands of people weren’t exactly born IN the park. Rather, the old Thomas Dee Memorial Hospital stood where Dee Memorial Park is today (that’s the park on 24th St. and Harrison Blvd.). The hospital served the community in that location from 1910 to 1969, and has since moved south on Harrison Boulevard twice: first to the location west of Weber State’s main campus, and later to its present location south of Country Hills Drive. To read more about the history of McKay-Dee Hospital, check out this page on Intermountain Healthcare’s website (http://intermountainhealthcare.org/hospitals/mckaydee/about/history/Pages/family.aspx).
The original hospital was demolished in 1972. Lawrence Taylor Dee, son of the hospital’s namesake Thomas D. Dee, wanted the land to be used as a park. The site was deeded to Ogden City in January of 1976.
After Lawrence Dee died on October 4, 1977, the Standard-Examiner published a tribute with these words:
“It was [his] love for youth and his belief in family strength that prompted Mr. Dee to give the site of the old Dee Hospital to the city for a family and youth oriented park. He watched with pride as school children throughout the area initiated fund raising projects and saved their pennies to help finance the development of the park, although actual construction is yet to begin.”
Although part of me wishes that the old hospital building could have been saved and used for something else, I’m glad that Lawrence Dee had the vision and goodwill to set aside the land as open space for the public. After all, it could have been sold off to become a strip mall or condo complex.
**Alec Hagen is finishing his undergraduate accounting degree at Weber State while working part-time for a local insurance company. His interests include local government and history, sustainability issues, and urban planning. He can be seen strolling 25th Street’s galleries on first Fridays, shopping at local Latino markets, and waiting for the bus.