Percy Plaza to Be Dedicated May 23 at Wisconsin & K

Senator Charles H. Percy
Senator Charles H. Percy

The Senator Charles H. Percy Plaza will be dedicated 4 p.m., May 23, by the District of Columbia and the Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park. At the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and K Street, Percy Plaza forms the gateway to the park, which the longtime Republican senator from Illinois and Georgetown resident helped make a reality by his leadership and commitment at a critical time in the park's development. All are invited.

Participating in the ceremony are Council Jack Evans and Sharon Percy Rockefeller, Percy's daughter. Also invited are Mayor Vincent Gray and District Council Chair Phil Mendelson.

The $24-million, 10-acre park, a joint project of the National Park Service, the Friends of the Georgetown Waterfront Park and the District of Columbia, opened officially on September 13, 2011, four days before Percy's death on Sept. 17.

"No one would have loved more to be here front row and center," said WETA president and CEO Sharon Percy Rockefeller of her 91-year-old father, Sen. Percy, during the September 2011 park dedication. "He would be thrilled to see this magnificent setting. It is his fondest and last best work."

"The Georgetown Waterfront Park would not be here today without the commitment and support of Senator Percy and his family," said Bob vow Eigen, president of Friends of Georgetown Waterfront Park.

A plaque in Percy's honor at the park reads, in part: “Senator Charles H. Percy was pivotal in the creation of the Georgetown Waterfront Park. Senator Percy—a Georgetown resident, lover of the waterfront, and supporter of local high school rowing—chaired the Georgetown Waterfront Park Commission that was so instrumental in the park’s creation.”

Percy was a U.S. senator from 1967 to 1985. He was a WWII veteran, a Navy ensign, and became president of Bell & Howell at the age of 29. In the Senate, he focused on legislation involving business and foreign relations. He was a moderate Republican, who found himself on President Richard Nixon's "enemies' list." As a retired senator, Percy remained active and could be seen and heard at meetings around town, such as those of the Citizens Association of Georgetown.

Georgetown architect Outerbridge Horsey remembered going to see Percy downtown with the late architect Bill Cochran to ask Percy to take on the leadership role in the waterfront project. “He was very amenable and agreeable,” Horsey said. “And he wasn’t just a figurehead with a famous name. He chaired every meeting in the early years until he resigned, and he had that voice and bearing of authority which got people to work together. He was very much a good citizen and member of the Georgetown community.”

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