Cascade Township, Michigan, Sept. 12, 2022 –
Cascade Township has renamed a park to Virgil Nishimura Westdale Memorial Park in honor of a local veteran and longtime community member.
Virgil Nishimura Westdale Memorial Park – formerly known as Museum Gardens Park – shares a space with the original Cascade Township Hall and now current Cascade Historical Museum at 2839 Thornapple River Drive SE.
The park renaming honors Virgil Westdale, a decorated World War II veteran who died earlier this year at age 104. His numerous military service highlights include assisting in the liberation of a Dachau concentration subcamp. Westdale, along with other members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, received the Congressional Gold Medal in November 2011.
“We owe Mr. Westdale – and all of our veterans – so much and are honored to rename this park in recognition of him and all those who have served for our freedom,” Cascade Township Supervisor Grace Lesperance said. “We hope park visitors will pause to remember Mr. Westdale and our other veterans as they walk this space and take in the beautiful scenery.”
After returning from the war, Westdale earned two degrees from Western Michigan University. He then became a chemical engineer at Burroughs Corp. and retired as a principal scientist at AM International in Chicago. After retirement, Westdale joined what became the Transportation Security Administration at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. In 2009, he published his autobiography, “Blue Skies and Thunder.” Westdale was a longtime member of Cascade Christian Church.
The park property, once the site of a gas station for many years, was transformed into a park in fall 1997. In summer 2015, the park was updated and renovated to encourage more interaction with the three large trees in the center area, updated plants, sculpture pad, musical pieces and new seating.
The park renaming ceremony took place Saturday, Sept. 10 during Cascade Heritage Festival, a community event that celebrates Cascade Township’s history.
To learn more about Virgil Nishimura Westdale Memorial Park, click here
Home to more than 19,000 residents, Cascade Township is committed to serving the public by providing the finest community services possible with respect, efficiency and integrity. With the Thornapple River at its heart, Cascade Township is recognized as an excellent place to live, work, play and raise a family. For more information, visit cascadetwp.com