Besides helping countless people book their dream vacations, Morry and Betty Wasserman were well known for their contributions to the community they had lived in for 60 years. This included donations to local causes, sometimes anonymously, according to son-in-law Jim Kellogg.
However, one donation they proudly lent their name to was the Play 4 All Park, an inclusive park and playground being built on the corner of Elmira Road and Leisure Town. Having a son with a developmental disability, the Wassermans were early supporters of the park and donated over $50,000 to fund its construction. In return, the Play 4 All Park Committee decided to name a piece of land in the park after the Wassermans.
Morry passed away in 2017 and Betty in 2021, but their contributions to the playing field will be enshrined in more ways than one. As the park nears the end of its first phase, Play 4 All Chairman Tom Phillippi presented Kellogg and his family with a replica piece of artwork that will be displayed on a light fixture atop the park. Zipline.
Kellogg, her son Logan and her daughter-in-law Grace received a painted pin-up of Betty in a blue dress with her name engraved on it, a symbol that appears on a metal replica of the B-17 bomber that Morry flew during the World War II which will be seated atop the zipline in front of an area which will be known as Wasserman Field.
Phillippi said the Wassermans’ donation was used to build the zip line. Behind it will be a picnic structure that looks like an aircraft hangar.
“This whole corner will be Wasserman Field at Play 4 All Park,” he said.
Philippi, who grew up a few blocks from the Wassermans, said he approached Betty with the idea of incorporating an aircraft to honor Morry’s service in World War II and his participation in the Berlin Airlift, where he flew a B-17.
“I had this idea to show Betty, ‘Hey, I have an idea that can honor your family and recognize your gift at the same time,'” he said. “The family loved it, they loved it, so that’s how we got here.”
The design features an image of Betty which was painted by local artist Jonathan Burton and his daughter Madison. Phillippi said Jonathan used a series of stencils to paint the image, one of which was made onto a canvas which he then gave to Jim Kellogg and his family.
Kellogg said receiving the artwork was a surprise but an incredible way to honor her in-laws. In particular, he pointed out that Betty was buried in blue clothes and that she was wearing a blue dress on the artwork.
“Here she is again in blue,” he said.
Kellogg said Logan and Grace ended up buying Morry and Betty’s house and dedicating the family room to Morry’s military service. The work will be presented there.
“It will go on the wall of this room, with all the memories of Morry,” he said.
Morry was born in 1921 and served in the Air Force as a B-17 bomber pilot during World War II, before retiring as a lieutenant colonel while stationed at the Travis Air Force Base in 1964. In 1944 he married Betty and they raised three children. in Vacaville from 1957.
In 1979, the Wassermans and their daughter, Wendy Wasserman Kellogg, opened Wasserman Travel on Merchant Street, helping many customers book vacations and cruises around the world. Kellogg said it was an example of their giving nature.
“(They) decided, ‘We have our roots in our community,'” he said. “‘We’re going to stay here and do everything we can to make it a better place to live.'”
Kellogg said the Wassermans often donate to causes, but always do so humbly.
“They didn’t want the notoriety of anything, so there were a lot of things we’ve done in the past as a family to support the community and help the community, but it was always anonymous donations,” did he declare.
After Morry’s death, Kellogg said that Betty wanted the Wasserman Travel name to live on, which resulted in the B-17 mockup. She was even present at the inauguration ceremony of the park in 2019 to deliver another donation.
Kellogg said the park is a great way to honor the Wassermans.
“I’m just sorry they weren’t here to see it,” he said.
The Play 4 All Park is intended to accommodate all children, whether they are disabled or not. These features include a swing with hydraulics to prevent children from falling, a miniature merry-go-round with space for wheelchairs to enter and stay in place while it spins, a large We-Go-Swing with a seat for people valid. and space to accommodate wheelchair users, and a zipline with a seat that can allow users to strap in safely.
Even the main structure of the playground allows people of all abilities to enter and move upwards. While Phillippi said not all kids will be able to ride down the slides, the structure has different activity stations where kids can do puzzles, play with shuttlecocks and even learn Braille.
Phillippi also said there would be a variety of different materials in the play area, rather than sand or gravel.
“Almost all of Vacaville’s play structures are in a sandbox surrounded by a concrete ring, and what’s a child in a wheelchair going to do?” he said. “How will they have fun?” While they can’t trade every slide here, they can be right in the thick of the action.
The initial phase of the park, consisting of the main playground, is expected to be completed over the next two to three months. The second phase will include two miniature baseball stadiums which are replicas of Fenway Park in Boston and Oracle Park in San Francisco and will allow children of all abilities to play baseball and will serve as tee-ball and wiffleball fields for adults. , a dog park, and a half-mile walking and jogging trail.
Kellogg can’t wait to see the smiles of kids of all skill levels as they use the playard.
“I’ve seen kids earlier, when they were setting things up, coming here and were really looking forward to playing here,” he said.
Phillippi said he can’t wait for all the kids to play together.
“No matter your ability, you can all play together and have fun,” he said. “By interacting like that, I think it makes us all better.”
More information about Play 4 All Park can be found at Play4allvacaville.org.