Roeland Park to name new R Park pavilion after Gretchen and Ardie Davis

A shocked Gretchen and Ardie Davis got a standing ovation after members of city committees nominated them as the namesakes for the R Park pavilion.

Over the past five years, a group of Roeland Park residents have worked with dogged determination to raise money to fund improvements for a grassy patch of parkland in the middle of the city.

They’ve organized 15 events, securing donations from more than 1,000 people — from Roeland Park and beyond. With their efforts, the group has been able to raise more than $140,000 for infrastructure improvements at R Park, including a walking path.

And none of it would have been possible without the leadership and organization of Gretchen and Ardie Davis.

Gretchen Davis (left) with fellow volunteers at one of the early fundraising efforts for R Park improvements back in 2014.

In recognition of the longtime Roeland Park residents’ efforts to raise money for parks projects, the city’s Arts Advisory Committee and Parks and Trees Committee on Monday recommended that the new large pavilion that will be constructed in the park be named in the couple’s honor. The recommendation was unanimously approved by the city council.

In addition to the infrastructure fundraising efforts, the Davises were a driving force in efforts to raise the $63,000 necessary to commission and install the Jorge Blanco sculpture “See Red Run,” which was put up under the artist’s supervision in May. They were also key in securing grant funding for additional R Park improvements worth more than $50,000.

All told, representatives of the parks and arts committees said Monday, the Davises have spurred efforts that have raised nearly $255,000 for Roeland Park.

“The Davises are a fixture for common good in the community, they are a part of R Park’s history, and the committees want all who come after us to know the invaluable contributions from these selfless citizens,” said Laura Yankoviz of the Parks and Trees Committee.

In comments after the nomination was put forth, Gretchen and Ardie thanked the city for the recognition — but requested that whatever the name of the pavilion might be, they hoped it would include the word “community” in recognition of the wide range of contributors.