After years in the works, Lloyd Crane finally saw his name on the athletic center at Veterans Memorial Park.
On July 24, Crane and his family, friends and colleagues came together to rededicate the athletic center and gymnasium at the park in honor of Crane. The facility is now known as The Lloyd Crane Center.
“Several years ago I was told they were going to name it after me and have a nice sign… and not a few weeks ago I drove by and saw (it),” Crane said, wiping tears from his eyes. “It hit me. It hit me what that means to me.”
Crane was a long time employee of Dawson County, having served as the Director of the Parks and Recreation department and within the Emergency Services department.
“You didn’t just do one job if you worked at Dawson County, you did at least two, sometimes three,” Dawson County Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said. “I can remember when the football field was built out there, Lloyd Crane was the bulldozer operator as well.”
Thurmond spoke at last week’s rededication ceremony about his long time working with Crane. From 1975 to 1993, Thurmond worked with Crane in both the parks department and emergency services back in the days when there weren’t 40 hour work weeks. They worked “until the job got done.”
“Whatever had to be done in this place, he was willing to do,” Thurmond said. “I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything that I have learned about being a man, about being a good employee I learned from him. It’s definitely an honor to stand here and see this building rededicated to him.”
Thurmond remembered back to memories of Crane staying up all night barbecuing hams for the fall festival, all to raise money so that every child in the county who wanted to play sports were afforded that opportunity.
“Never did he turn anybody away. Everybody got an opportunity to play in recreation,” Thurmond said. “If there’s ever been anybody who’s worked for Dawson County that deserves honor, it’s him.”
The building looks a little different than when Crane saw its completion. Crane thought back to Veterans Memorial Park before the facility was built when the department relied on the school gymnasiums so that kids could play.
Then one year, some SPLOST funds allowed for the construction of a simple athletic building complete with a tile floor.
“We thought it was the Taj Mahal when we got it built,” Crane said. “Once we got the building built, we got all kinds of people come in and look at to build one like it. We told them it was real nice and it was at that time, and real, real nice for us.”
Now the facility has received upgrades to its exterior, with a new awning and stone columns as part of the ongoing revitalization project at the park. Other projects in the revitalization include the new pool house that opened last year, plans for a multi-use field where field three currently sits, a new family pavilion and the Pauline Stephens Ivey Senior Center which will be an expansion of the current Margie Weaver Senior Center.
Inside, the facility’s floors have been upgraded from the tile with more suitable flooring for assortment of activities.
Current Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne said he is so excited to have come into Dawson County to serve the citizens and work with the commissioners and senior staff to upgrade the parks and provide for the citizens.
“We are very excited to be able to take a building that has served our community for a long time and just give it a nice face lift and it is beautiful,” Payne said.
“You couldn’t have named this building after a finer man than Lloyd Crane,” Thurmond said. “He is honest. He is a man of few words, but his actions speak thousands of words.”
Through tears, Crane remembered and thanked the efforts of everyone who has made the park possible including his family, the staff and volunteers.
“We struggled to get everything we’ve got up here,” Crane said. “Although my name is on the building, if it wasn’t for a lot of people…this park wouldn’t have been here.”