Here is the Ike Owings story, provided by the Douglasville Parks and Recreations Department.
Ike Owings was a successful businessman is Douglasville for many years. He owned the local Western Auto Store in Downtown Douglasville. In 1958 he was awarded the WSB 750 Man of the Year Award. That same year he was recognized as the Douglas County Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year. These are just two of the awards he received throughout his career. He was also a member of the First United Methodist Church where he served on several committees including the building committee where he was instrumental in the construction of the current building on Presley Mill Road. His family continues to worship and support the church today.
Ike Owings' passion was Parks and Recreation. Ike was once quoted in the Sentinel as saying,” it is my vision of someday seeing many young and old people alike have a Recreation Park and place to enjoy one another”. On May 4, 1956, Douglas County adopted a Recreation Commission. Ike Owings served as Chairman of that Commission for many years and was the leading force for the creation of the “City Park” renamed in 1966, “Hunter Memorial Park.” In the late 50’s work days were set up for citizens to clear the land for “City Park” to be built and Ike Owings name was on the top of the list. In those days if you couldn’t make it to the work day, you could pay $5.00 instead. (I know you have probably heard that story before but it is Ike’s story). In 1957, $55,000 was requested of the Mayor and City Council to build a swimming pool at Hunter Park. Members of the Park Commission borrowed $2,000 on their own signatures to fund the construction of other projects. A BBQ dinner was scheduled for July 4th 1957 to raise money. The tickets price was $1. The Jaycee Club sponsored a greased pig catching contest and a dunking booth where the Mayor, City Councilmen and Chief of Police served as targets. (Nobody get any ideas for next year)!
But Ike Owings first love was baseball.He was the first President of The Douglas County Little League Organization. All boys and girls ages 8-12 years of age were eligible to register. Ike coached and sponsored a team for many years at Hunter Park. But Ike saw that there was a need for boys and girls ages 4-7 years of age to learn the game. In the early 60’s Ike Owings introduced a new game to the citizens of Douglas County, tee ball. After watching a tee ball game Ike made the statement, “Baseball will never be the same”. This year over 250 boys and girls ages 4-6 years of age participated in Tee Ball at Hunter Park!
But Ike Owings vision wasn’t just about sports. He was quoted in 1957 as saying, “the picnic area at Hunter Park can be made into the most beautiful part of the Park”. He worked with many civic groups including, The Jaycee’s, Douglasville Kiwanis Club and the American Legion Post 145 to support and build pavilions and picnic areas around the Park. In the early 60’s a one story building was built in City Park primarily for the Garden Club and other civic groups to meet. Over the years floors were added until it became a two story building with a three meeting rooms, a kitchen and a dance floor. It was named the Ike Owings Recreation Building in 1963. It later became the home to the City of Douglasville Parks and Recreation Department. In 2010 the building was torn down in preparation for the 8-million dollar renovation to Hunter Park. On January 11, 2011 a ribbon cutting was held to open the new 16,000 sq. ft. Community Center. Since that day, Ike Owings vision has became a reality. This building has hosted hundreds of events including, Baby Showers, Family Reunions, birthday parties where many people came together and enjoyed themselves.
In June of 2013 the Mayor and City Council voted to name the baseball field where the Ike Owings Recreation Center once stood in honor of Ike Owings, Ike Owings Field.
Today we honor the life and memory of I.S. Owings, better known as Ike, by dedicating the Hunter Park Community Center in his name. In appreciation of the 18 years he spent fundraising, organizing and I am sure many hours with a shovel in his hand, this Community Center will forever be known as, The Ike Owings Community Center.