Someday soon neighborhood children will race each other over to White Rock Lake across a pedestrian walkway, down plant-lined paths, safe from traffic. And it began with the simple wish of one much loved wife and mother.

This is a single account among many we found of individuals who have tried, in a variety of ways, to preserve the beauty and usefulness of our 90-year-old lake. Some make financial donations, others volunteer their time, and still others contribute their ideas in memory of loved ones or for love of nature – love of an oasis that has survived for generations tucked away in the heart of a city filled with traffic lights and blaring horns. Here area few of their stories.

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The Hodges / Five years ago, Hampton Hodges and his wife moved to our neighborhood. They had spent almost every weekend prior to the move looking for the perfect neighborhood, a neighborhood surrounded by beauty, away from the cookie-cutter homes of suburbia and the cement of shopping center parking lots.

Mrs. Hodges spent most of those weekends at White Rock Lake with two of her daughters. Both lived in Dallas, and the time they spent with their mother was precious. Mrs. Hodges grew to love White Rock Lake, both for its beauty and the wildlife inhabiting the area. And after months of searching, the couple found their perfect home in Lakewood, within walking distance of the Lake.

The home was special to them; Mrs. Hodges recently had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and she and her family knew the time they spent together and where they spent it would be treasured. From the couple’s home on Tokalon, they could walk to the Lake and enjoy an afternoon together.

But there was one thing Mrs. Hodges didn’t like.

Children in the neighborhood had to walk from Tokalon, across Williamson Road, across a gully and then over railroad tracks just to reach the Lake. Mrs. Hodges wished there could be a safer and more convenient pathway to the Lake for neighborhood children.

A few years later, Mrs. Hodges died from cancer. And in her memory, her husband began considering building the pathway she envisioned.

“She loved the Lake and watching the birds. It was very therapeutic for her. I thought this would be a great way to contribute,” he says.

Hodges first approached DART and the City of Dallas with the idea of making a paved pathway from Tokalon to White Rock. He volunteered to hire the contractor, get the work completed, and then donate the pathway back to the City. The City approved his proposal, but the development was postponed because of the planned Lake dredging.

As he waited and continued to research the possibilities, Hodges eventually met Gary Griffith, a board member of the Dallas Park and Recreation Board. Griffith, who has worked with the White Rock Lake Foundation and For The Love Of The Lake Group on other projects, was intrigued by the pathway concept.

Griffith introduced Hodges to other interested residents, and plans are now being considered to create a pedestrian gateway to White Rock Lake.

“We decided it was truly the south-end entrance of the Lake,” Hodges says. “We wanted to contribute something to our wives, but at the same time make a good entrance for the neighborhood. When you get people pushing ideas, there’s no telling what can get done. I was just going to be a small part of it, but the project has just grown,” he says.

The final version of the pedestrian gateway will be the result of individual ideas, and the support of the City, the Park and Recreation Department and the organizations that donate their time to improve and maintain White Rock Lake.

“The proposed Master Plan update, which will include the new pedestrian gateway, will be reviewed by a neighborhood advisory committee appointed by the Park Board,” Griffith says.

The Potter Legacy / The White Rock Lake Foundation and For The Love Of The Lake are two neighborhood organizations that volunteer their time to support the Lake. Each group organizes events, whether to raise funds to support the White Rock Lake Master Plan or to gather volunteers on a Saturday morning to clean the Lake’s shores. Because of their presence, others know where to turn when they want to support the Lake.

It was the first call Richard Potter made.

On an afternoon ride along Garland Road, Potter pulled into the now-closed original entrance of White Rock Lake; he noticed two lanterns on the stone entrance. After a quick look, he immediately recognized the handiwork – the twists, the pointed spires, the hammered iron texture, all were the hand-crafted details of his grandfather, Henry Potter.

So Potter’s grandson, who is carrying on the family’s legacy at Potter Art Metal Studios, contacted For The Love Of The Lake and asked if the group could run a proposal by the Parks and Recreation Department.

Potter wanted to volunteer his time to refurbish the two lanterns his grandfather created for the entrance in the 1930s.

“I think it’s cool to refurbish my grandfather’s lanterns…metalwork is a lost art,” Potter says.

After speaking to officials with the Park and Recreation department, Potter discovered that the entrance originally had four lanterns. He began work on the surviving two last summer, refinishing the exteriors, replacing the glass, and paying attention to every detail his grandfather crafted.

Once the original lanterns are completed, he plans to make two identical ones to replace the missing pair. Every aspect of the work will be completed by hand, and all four lanterns will be mounted at the entrance of White Rock Lake off of Garland Road, a perfect complement to the stone entryway and wood and stone bridge now being restored to its 1930s appearance though other efforts spearheaded by neighborhood volunteer Steve Tompkins.

The Master Plan / Most of the restorations taking place are part of plans put together by area nonprofits and City organizations. The White Rock Lake Foundation, along with the City’s Park and Recreation Department, For The Love Of The Lake and other organizations, go about restoring and maintaining the Lake’s natural beauty through the completion and approval of the White Rock Lake and Park Master Plan.

“The Master Plan is what we hope to have done and by when,” says Susan Falvo, president of The White Rock Lake Foundation’s board of directors.

“All input for the Master Plan update came from several groups in the area. The problem was, nobody seemed to know about it!”

Falvo has been visiting with neighborhood associations throughout our area to raise awareness for the Master Plan and what others can do to contribute.

“We’re just people. Our group of 15 individuals has committed to raise $150,000 over the next five years. We could possibly raise $500,000 over the next five years if other groups commit as well,” she says.

Falvo and others work with the city on an ongoing basis, campaigning for bond issues to help beautify the Lake and to organize events to raise awareness of what an asset the Lake is to the community.

“The community support for the Lake and Lake projects is invaluable to the city and the council representatives,” says Mayor Pro Tem Mary Poss.

In the past, community support has been instrumental in passing bonds to financially improve the Lake. Community support pushed through the 1995 dredging; in 1998, community support made it possible to build hike-and-bike trails, as well as make renovations to Winfrey Point and the Dreyfuss Club.

“There are people all over our neighborhood and in the region incredibly supportive of improving our Lake,” Poss says. “White Rock Lake is absolutely one of the treasures of our entire region.

“It is once again a great location for all types of recreational activities. Dallas is extremely fortunate to have such a tremendous jewel in the heart of the city.”

The Bogarts / At least once a week, Larry and Donna Bogart make it point to visit the Lake – whether it’s for walking or bicycling, or just to spend the afternoon having a picnic, the couple has always enjoyed spending time at White Rock Lake.

“We’re sandwiched in here in the urban areas, and it’s nice to have a place like White Rock.” Larry Bogart says. “It makes you feel like you are in the country.”

So when the Bogarts were told they would have to cut down the Yaupon Holly growing alongside their home, their first thought was to donate the tree to White Rock Lake rather than cutting it down. They had planted the evergreen in their yard in 1991. At 10 years old, it had grown to 20 feet. Although they knew they wanted to donate the tree to the Lake, they didn’t know who to call first.

Then, on one of their afternoon walks at the Lake, the Bogarts noticed an Adopt-A-Shoreline sign for the organization Greenbee. The Bogarts immediately began corresponding with Greenbee to locate a home for their tree. But since the tree had become so large, the couple had the additional task of finding someone who could actually transplant it.

Greenbee not only helped the Bogarts find a home for the Yaupon Holly, but also coordinated with the Park and Recreation Department to find someone to transplant the tree and advise the best time of year for a move. The 20-foot transplant now stands at Winfrey Point on the west side of the Lake.

“I was really surprised when they picked that spot,” Bogart says. “It’s a really prominent place. It overlooks the city. I’m happy to see it there.”