To Diane Kastama, Veterans Park in Puyallup is like home.
Her actual home, right down the road from the park, was where she lived with her late husband, Bob, who passed away in May at 84 years old.
“Miles and miles and miles we’ve walked this trail,” Diane said about the Riverwalk Trail, which runs through Veterans Park. “It became home.”
Miles and miles and miles we’ve walked this trail. It became home.
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It was why Diane felt herself getting emotional when the city of Puyallup dedicated a new swing bench at the park to Bob on Friday.
“It’s beautiful,” Diane said when she saw the bench.
The $1,500 bench took around two weeks to install and sits at the edge of the park with a view of the Puyallup River. Diane got the first swing on the bench before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I’m really taken with emotion right now,” Diane said as she sat on the swing, surrounded by her family members.
The Friends of the Riverwalk Trail with the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition requested the bench be dedicated to Bob and Diane for their many years of civic service to the community. Bob helped establish the organization in the early 2000s with community member Ernie Bay. The group is dedicated to connecting communities by making the Riverwalk Trail, which stretches four miles, a safe and accessible environment.
Bob was also the visionary in creating Veterans Park at 429 9th Ave NE. Six years ago, he came to Puyallup Mayor John Hopkins with the idea.
“He wanted to turn this little area into a park and call it Veterans Park,” Hopkins said at Friday’s event.
In 2013, the park was established. Since then, it grew to include a picnic area, a new playground and now, a swing.
“Bob and Diane have been such visionaries for the Riverwalk Trail,” Parks and Recreation Director Sarah Harris said. “We’re just so thankful for the work (they’ve) done.”
Bob and Diane have been such visionaries for the Riverwalk Trail. We’re just so thankful for the work (they’ve) done.
Sarah Harris, Puyallup Parks and Recreation director
“That was Bob’s vision, absolutely,” said Dixie Gatchel, member of Friends of the Riverwalk Trail. “There’s nothing in this park that (Bob and Diane) weren’t leaders for.”
Bob and Diane have three children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and were married for 62 years. The couple’s daughter-in-law, Sheila Kastama, said the bench was a great memorial.
“He lived down here,” she said. “He was always talking to people and picking up trash.”
Diane said her husband would have loved the swing.
“He’d be swinging, and then he’d tell everyone to get on the swing with him,” she said.