PARADE GRAND MARSHAL
Lifelong Springville resident Richard “Dick” Sumsion will be honored as the Grand Marshal of the 2018 Art City Days Grand Parade on Saturday, June 9. The parade begins at 10 am that morning and travels down 400 South and Main streets.
Sumsion, 88, was the driving force behind the creation of Contractor Legacy Park, located at 50 South and 100 East on the banks of Springville’s Hobble Creek. A bridge crosses from the Springville Public Library over Hobble Creek to the park.
The Contractor Legacy Park was built as a monument to the many roadway and heavy construction contractors who have been located in Springville throughout the city’s history. A bronze plaque at the Contractor Legacy Park honors ten early Springville contractors who paved roads and worked on projects throughout the intermountain west.
An article that ran in The Springville Herald in 1955 states that at that time, Springville had “more people engaged in general contracting per capita than any other city in the United States.” The article also states that “it is reported that more than half of the highways built in Utah during the past 25 or 30 years is the work of Springville contractors. In addition, hundreds of miles of highways, many bridges and other construction properties throughout the western states have been contracted by Springville builders.”
“Springville was noted as a contractor town,” Dick Sumsion said.
The 10 contractors listed on the park plaque are: Ralph Child Construction Co., W.W. Clyde & Co., Grant Construction Co., Deal Mendenhall Construction Co., V.C. Mendenhall Construction Co., J.M. Sumsion & Sons Inc., Thorn Construction Co. Inc., and Whiting and Haymond Construction Co. J.M. Sumsion & Sons was founded by Dick Sumsion’s father J.M. Sumsion.
Springville contractors not only had a significant impact upon the landscape that still surrounds residents today, they also have been generous over the years in donating funds, equipment and experienced workers to build parks and other recreational facilities in the city as well as support the local arts. For example, in the early 1960s, the Clyde Foundation and the Clyde family donated $85,000 to build a new wing onto the west side of the Springville Museum of Art. The addition, dedicated on April 25, 1964, made the museum the largest in Utah and the region at the time.
In an effort to recognize the contributions of Springville contractors, Dick Sumsion approached the Springville City Council several years ago and proposed creating a park in their honor. The city council unanimously approved the idea, but it took several years to find a suitable location. Eventually, approval was given to utilize land just east of the new Springville Public Library. Dick Sumsion then put together a committee to raise money for the project.
Members of his committee approached the families of the Springville contractors and were able to raise nearly $100,000. The funds paid to complete the park and create a monument with bronze plaques detailing the history of Springville contractors. The park was dedicated on Sept. 20, 2014.
There are plans to add a pavilion to the park this summer.
Dick Sumsion said he was born into the contracting business, working with his father and his brother James from a young age. Dick Sumsion took over as president of the family company when his father died in 1958. He and his brother ran the business until 1996 when it was sold. James, served as vice president of the company.
“In the beginning, there was a lot of contribution from the contractors in the employment of all the young school kids. It was just perfect employment,” Dick Sumsion said. “There were all these contractors and there was a generation of these employees. Everybody had a job with a contractor.”
Dick Sumsion was born in Springville and his heritage in the city goes back to 1852 when his great-grandfather arrived here from England. Sumsion graduated from Springville High School where his wife, Joann Blackett Sumsion, also attended and was editor of the high school yearbook. The couple graduated in 1947 and married in 1948. For their wedding, Dick Sumsion’s parents gave them a parcel of land in Springville for a house. They built a home there and still live there today.
They raised four children in Springville: Sharee, Brent, Steven and Scott. They have 26 grandchildren and 45 great-grandchildren.