Perry’s smallest park in America honors Clyde Tryon
Clyde and Retha Tryon’s son, Denny Tryon, Ozawkie, is seen with the monument. The oak is in the background.
Story and photos by Carolyn Kaberline
It’s been said that every person has a story to tell, and if the same is true for trees, there’s an oak in Perry with a lot of tales to tell. That tree is located in the center of town in what’s been called the smallest city park in the country.
The oak’s story begins some 25 or 30 years ago, when it became a replacement for an elm that once stood there. The elm, at least 100 years old, had fallen victim to Dutch elm disease and had to be removed. That old elm had been lovingly referred to as The Tree of Knowledge, because a host of citizens of all ages had sat on the bench surrounding it, talking, gossiping, whittling, and solving the world’s problems as they did so.It wasn’t long after the elm was cut down and the stump removed that people wanted to start a tree in its place, so Pete Mc Hardie, a city maintenance worker, planted a young oak. However, that oak didn’t grow, but did leave three sprigs in its place. One day when Pete was mowing, Clyde Tryon came by. Knowing that there was no room for three trees to grow in the allotted space, Tryon made a selection and saved one of the sprigs. The sprig thrived and soon was referred to as Clyde’s tree because of his selection and later pruning. It was also called The Mighty Oak as it grew to maturity.
After Clyde’s death in 2008, his family began to think of a possible memorial for him.
“Clyde was a great person for the town,” his widow, Retha Tryon, said. “He was civic-minded and served in the city council for two terms and was active in the Masonic Lodge.”
Retha also said that after his retirement from Goodyear, where he worked as an electrician, he did all the electrical work at the Methodist Church for free.
While a memorial for Clyde had been planned for some time, it became a reality this past spring.
“Mom and I wanted to make a memorial,” Denny Tryon, Ozawkie, Clyde and Retha’s son, said. “We went through the proper channels in the city council. The council called back and said it was a good idea.”
“Larry Nichol cut the design in Kansas limestone,” said Retha. “Since Clyde was an outdoorsman, we wanted it to be rustic. He was also a K-State alumnus, and we thought the squirrel would go with trees,” she added as she talked about the stone’s design.
With the stone now in place next to the oak, Retha said there have been a lot of positive comments about it. There have also been suggestions for the addition of a bench or even a picnic table.
“Most people said it brings back a lot of memories,” she said. “They really appreciate it.”
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