Wacker Park was established in the 1940s by a group of local residents who wished to see such a facility become reality in the community. Today, Wacker Park serves as a playground for the young and a recreation site for adults. Complete with a walk-jog track, playground equipment, band shell, softball and baseball fields, the Rotary rose garden, tennis courts, pavilion, sand volleyball court, rodeo grounds, Garvin County fair barns, football field and basketball gym.
The need for a recreational park had long been recognized, and some steps and plans had been made toward such a goal. When the dream was realized, Wacker Park was established without a single cent of tax money. More than a quarter of a million dollars were raised privately, with donations clearing the way for the purchase of land on Pauls Valley’s north side.
The school system used some of the land and money to build a football stadium and gymnasium. To this day, the Pauls Valley Panthers football team still plays its games in front of the home crowd at Thompson Field in Wacker Park. The county added the Free Fair facility while the city’s Parks Board added a number of other facilities. The Parks Board was responsible for the construction of a softball field, several baseball fields, tennis courts, pavilion, rodeo grounds and the accompanying rodeo stands.
The renewed rose garden effort was initiated during the 2002-2003 Rotary year in preparation for the Centennial of Rotary International in 2005. The Herbert J. Taylor monument and Rotary emblem, the first part of the revitalization plan, were dedicated on the 100th anniversary of Rotary’s founding, February 23, 2005. The Rotary club board and membership, as an ongoing civic project and gift to the community under the overall vision and direction of member Marty Lichtmann, have embraced the legacy of past Rotarian Sam Lowe.
Wacker Park’s assets are said to be in the millions, with most of its initial features and later additions coming from the generosity of Pauls Valley’s residents.