May 24, 2010
Kaiser Permanente History Champion Receives National Park Service Award
RICHMOND, Calif. — The National Park Service presented its Home Front Award to Kaiser Permanente’s Heritage Resources Director Tom Debley Monday as part of the city’s 2010 Historic Preservation Awards.
Debley, founding director of Kaiser Permanente’s heritage resources organization, was instrumental in the creation of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park in 2000. Debley, formerly media relations director for Kaiser Permanente’s operations in Northern California, assumed the role of Heritage Resources director when the department was created in 2003.
The National Park Service cited Debley for leading “initiatives to create and support” the home front park, which is on the site of the World War II Kaiser Richmond shipyards.
The National Park Service Home Front Award is to recognize people, projects, programs or publications that preserve a home front site or structure, or that promote recognition and understanding of the World War II era in the nation’s history.
The purpose of the city’s historic awards program is to increase public awareness of Richmond’s heritage by recognizing individuals, organizations, businesses and agencies whose contributions demonstrate outstanding commitment to excellence in historic preservation, local history or promotion of the city’s heritage.
The Richmond Historic Preservation Advisory Committee presented its annual awards in the ceremony Monday at Richmond Civic Center. Honorees were:
- Dr. Rachael Stryker and students of the Public Interest Ethnography Call for “A Home of Our Own: The Stories of Atchison Village’s Longtime Residents;”
- Steve Duran and the city of Richmond for the revitalization of the civic center;
- Mildred Dornan, Point Richmond history preserver, for “Point Faithful: A 100-Year History of the First United Methodist Church, Point Richmond, California;”
- Summer Brenner for “Where We’re From” Oral History Project, “Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle;”
- Mark Howe and Andrew Butt, Interactive Resources, Inc., for the rehabilitation of 201 West Richmond Ave.; and
- The El Cerrito Historical Society for the Japanese Nursery Exhibition and Book.
Kaiser Permanente’s own Preston Maring, MD, won a National Park Service Home Front Award in 2009. Dr. Maring founded Kaiser Permanente’s farmers market program in 2003; today, there are more than 36 farmers markets at Kaiser Permanente facilities nationwide.
For more about Kaiser Permanente’s history, visit “A History of Total Health,” Kaiser Permanente’s heritage blog on the Web.
Our Neighbors: Lena Horne had her moment in Richmond
By Chris Treadway
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 05/28/2010 10:52:08 PM PDT
Updated: 05/29/2010 07:27:20 PM PDT
Thanks to the research and online posting of Tom Debley, director of Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources, we can relate how the death of beloved entertainer Lena Horne on May 9 at age 92 came almost 63 years to the day after she was in Richmond to dedicate the Liberty Ship S.S. George Washington Carver.
The S.S. Carver was the first ship built at the wartime Kaiser facility to be named for a famous African American — the renowned scientist, educator and inventor had died a few months earlier — and the significance of the 1943 launching was not lost on those running the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond.
Horne, at the time a rising African-American movie star, was brought to Kaiser Shipyard No. 1 for the May 7 launching, and the historic moment was captured on film for the Office of War Information by E.F. Joseph, a well-known African-American photographer.
Recognition for the diverse wartime work force at the wartime Kaiser operations in Richmond and the Pacific Northwest was not unusual, Debley said last week.
"You see similar things with Native Americans, you see it with Chinese Americans," he said. "They did special things to highlight the work of disabled workers."
African Americans and women made up a large portion of the work force at the shipyards, and that was highlighted at the launching of the S.S. Carver.
"She was proudly representing the more than 7,000 African American shipyard workers — 1,000 of them female 'Rosie the Riveters,' " Debley wrote May 10 for the website www.kaiserpermanentehistory.org.