An initiative to install a new park bench on the Greenbelt started out as a way to honor Dale Ross. When cancer took the longtime Foothills Strider member and Habitat for Humanity supporter, the effort became a memorial.
Doug Anderson, president of the Foothills Striders, was among those gathered to honor Ross on Sept. 9 on the Greenway at Cedar Street and Montvale Road.
“The idea originally was to honor Dale Ross, not for it to be a memorial to Dale Ross,” Anderson said. “We had hoped to get the bench mounted and installed. He would have rather the money went to a scholarship rather than a monument, but we felt it was for his family as well as him. It’s a place they can hone-in on,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the bench weighs 900 pounds, and the plaque weighs 1,200 pounds. “The City of Maryville very graciously poured the foundation and mounted the plaque. It was 95 percent done the day Dale died,” Anderson said.
The Striders president said planners for the dedication chose to wait a week to give Ross’ family time to bury him and to come sit on the bench before the ceremony. “They all have sat on the bench,” Anderson said of Ross’ family.
Anderson shared a story about Ross, who often helped out with his church’s mission’s trips but was unable to go this year. “When it became obvious he wasn’t going to be able to go on the missions trip to the Dominican Republic, and they made badges that said, ‘What would Dale do?’ He was instrumental in getting things done,” Anderson said.
Anderson said that shortly before Ross died he apologized to his friends that he wouldn’t make it to his own funeral. “He said, ‘I d love to be there but I’m probably going to miss it by 3 days.’ Everyone knew that was Dale Ross’ sense of humor,” Anderson said.
Anderson said if Ross could have been there he would have loved to sit on that bench and shared with those came by and sat down also. “That was his character and the way he was,” he said. “This bench will be lasting memorial to those people who knew him and those who didn’t know him. By reading the plaque, they’ll know he must have been a nice man to know.”