For a long time, I’ve enjoyed Loose Park, one of KC’s largest public parks, located on the west side of Wornall and south of 51st St, but it was just recently that I noticed the sign declaring its full name, “Jacob L. Loose Memorial Park.” Well, of course the park is named after someone; it had just never occurred to me to ask whom. But now I had to know. Who was Jacob Loose and what did he do to deserve a park in his name?
You can read a more thorough bio here, but the long and short of it is that Jacob Loose started the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company, now known as the Sunshine Biscuit Company. Yep, he was a baking king, and his wife, Ella, was the queen. They were fabulously wealthy, no doubt, but it was their fabulous generosity that made them famous. The couple was legendary for their philanthropic work.
In 1926, shortly after her husband died, Ella purchased the 80-acre site, then operated as a golf course for a private country club, and donated to the city, in memory of her husband, to be used as a public park. The spacious park now boasts tennis courts, acres of trees and green space, a renowned rose garden, duck ponds, a Japanese tea room, a spray park, and many other amenities.
On any given day or evening, you will find hundreds of people spread about the park enjoying an escape from its urban surroundings. The park is full of life: vibrant, colorful, joyful, and peaceful. Within its womb, friendships are forged, families brought closer together, love deepened, anxiety and stress released. Smiles, laughter, kisses, and play rule at Loose Park.
It’s hardly the image one conjures at the word “memorial.”
Contrast this memorial to those famous Egyptian memorials, the pyramids. Amazing structures that attract thousands of tourists every year, yes, but a place to frolic and laugh? Doubtful.
The pyramids were built, or rather commanded to be built, by rich rulers whose purpose was to secure a prosperous and comfortable after-life for themselves. Great wealth and treasures were buried in these tombs, not to see the light of day for thousands of years.
But Ella Loose, instead of burying her wealth or using it primarily to secure her own lasting comfort, used it to memorialize her husband in a way that would benefit the community for many generations. His memorial is a beauty not only to be admired, but also to be enjoyed.
Most of us do not have the means to donate an 80-acre park to the city, but we can all, in our own way, seek to leave behind us beauty that continues to enrich the lives of others for years to come. Consider your resources, your talents, your relationships, all that is within your sphere of influence. What can you do to add lasting beauty, joy, smiles, laughter, kisses and play to all around you? What will be your memorial?