Appropriately, rainfall failed to dampen the dedication of Louisiana Tech’s Spirit Park on Thursday, Oct. 16.

The crowd’s spirits remained high as the park with ‘spirit’ in its name saw the unveiling of statues that honor the lives of four people who overcame adversity to leave a distinctive mark on humanity.

Spirit Park rests between Davison Hall and the Biomedical Engineering Building. Created as a gift to the university from the Class of 1950 to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of their graduation, the park was originally dedicated in 2000.

John D. Caruthers unveils the statue of Albert Einstein at the dedication of Louisiana Tech’s Spirit Park. Looking on in appreciation are Caruthers’ wife, Jane; Nina Huntsman and her husband, Don, the park sculptor; and Linda and Dan Reneau.

Now, the area has been transformed with four bronze busts mounted on brick columns, a fountain, extensive landscaping and a bronze university logo at the center of the park. Those memorialized are Voltaire, Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Einstein.

‘It’s one of the finest things I have participated in as president of Louisiana Tech,’ Dr. Dan Reneau said.

Benefactors of the park’s upgrade, John D. and Jane Caruthers, of Shreveport, were present, as well as the sculptor, Don Huntsman, of Carbondale, Colo. Both men delivered dedicatory remarks.

Huntsman explained some of the ideas behind his work. ‘I tried to capture (Voltaire’s) honor and courage,’ he said, and the statue of Einstein portrays the scientist ‘as still being humble and kind even after his successes’ and as if he were in conversation with students. Huntsman spoke of Frank’s goals and dreams, and King’s courage and determination.

Caruthers said he and his wife hope that ‘someone will sit here and meditate in this serene environment and come up with an idea to benefit mankind.’ He spoke of Voltaire’s appeal for reason, free speech and tolernance; of King’s desire for all people to be treated equally; and of Frank’s innate faith in the goodness of people.

Benefactor John D. Caruthers delivers dedicatory remarks in Tech’s newly enhanced Spirit Park. Behind him at the lectern are Reggie Hanchey, university program coordinator; Tech President Dan Reneau; and Ryan Richard, director of alumni relations.

‘Anne Frank put a wonderful face on the most horrible time in the history of the world,’ Caruthers said. The statue of Frank, the young Holocaust victim who desired to be an author and ended up writing one of the most telling journals of all time, is holding a book.

Concerning the Caruthers’ donation and the ‘thousands of students who will meander through the park’ in the future, Reneau said, ‘This is truly the gift that keeps on giving.’

Reneau joked concerning the rain and the power outage at the university Thursday morning, ‘Once John D. Caruthers walked in, the fountains magically came on and electricity appeared.’

Spirits remained high as a sea of umbrellas sprang up in the aptly named Spirit Park at the site’s dedication.
Approximately 150 people attended the ceremony in spite of the inclement weather. Cecil Harris, 1950 senior class president and one of the people who originally spearheaded the park project, was among them.

The enhanced park is dedicated to the memory of John D. Caruthers’ parents, J.D. and Veva Ozley Caruthers. J.D. Caruthers was a native of Lisbon; Veva Caruthers was born near Arcadia. Caruthers said his father was president of the Tech Alumni Association in the 1950s and he himself was president in the late 1960s.

Architects for Spirit Park were Bill Willoughby and Guy Carwile, both of the Tech School of Architecture. The contractor was Triad Builders of Ruston.

Written by Sallie Hollis