River park will be named in honor of Warren

Ray Warren

The new park to be constructed at the Arkansas River and Market will be named in honor of the contributions to the community by the late Ray Warren and his wife, Virginia – Warren Riverview Park.

The name was approved by the Derby City Council this past week, in addition to Sunset Pavilion, as the name for the future building to be constructed in the park.

Ray Warren died in January 2004 at age 73, after working to develop local neighborhoods and commercial properties for nearly 40 years. He started in partnership with Jim Minson and later as the Warren Company.

While his business acumen still stands today through the many homes and buildings he helped create, his friends, family and associates asked that the park be named as Warren Riverview Park. The facility will cater to an adventuresome spirit with scout-related and river- or nature-themed amenities.

"I just think we would be remiss ... not to recognize Ray and Virginia Warren for all the things they have done for this community," said Frank Seitz, superintendent of recreation for the Derby Recreation Commission.

Warren was a charter member of the DRC board and served on it for 16 years. When city voters approved the building of the first phase of the DRC, Warren talked another developer out of building duplexes at the current site of the DRC. He then traded land with the other developer and talked the city into the purchase of the current site, Seitz said.

He worked with other parks in a variety of ways, but understood the local need for a larger park. Warren actually purchased the land for High Park, talked the city into purchasing it for the same price he had paid and then donated his real estate commission back to the DRC.

In 1994 the Kansas Parks and Recreation Association named him Volunteer of the Year.

He was also active in Boy Scouts for over 30 years and was awarded the highest adult volunteer recognition: the Silver Beaver Award.

Ray Warren’s love of parks may have had a link back to his childhood. He worked as a child in the Riverside Boathouse in Wichita, a facility his grandfather, Ruben Israel, helped build.

The Warrens’ son, Chuck, is currently a member of the city council, but stepped off the bench for the discussion and vote on park names. He thanked the council for recognizing his father with the naming of the park.

"On behalf of my family, my dad did love this community. He loved this park system," Chuck said. "We would consider it a high honor if you would honor him in this way."

Mayor Dion Avello said naming a park for an avid volunteer is appropriate.

"I think a city is its people," he said. "You don’t want to lose that heritage."

The second new park in Derby, at Madison and Derby streets, will be named Madison Avenue Central Park. Council members said they believed the name associated with the main street which abuts it will help visitors find the park.