DENISON, TX -- Denison ISD officials announced not long ago that major funds were needed in order to bring Munson Stadium up to par. Now, thanks to a surprise $1 million donation, the school renovation project has exceeded its goal.
The donation comes from the late Dr. Rene Gerard and his wife Eva Gerard Baker. The Gerard family has been involved in the Denison school district and community for years. Mrs. Gerard says she wanted her money to stay local and that the stadium was the perfect place for it.
Members of the Denison community gathered outside Munson Stadium Wednesday afternoon showing their appreciation for Eva Gerard Baker and her family.
Eva Gerard made the $1 million donation for the Munson Stadium renovation project on behalf of her and her late husband, Dr. Rene Gerard. Dr. Gerard practiced in Denison for more than 50 years. The two had five children go through the Denison school district and they have several grandchildren attending the schools now.
"It was money that my husband and I had designated for charity. So, I decided this was a good place to put it. We earned the money here, my husband and I. And the people of Denison supported us for years. It was our turn," Eva Gerard Baker said.
"She was a volunteer for the PTA. She volunteered in the concession stand during the football games. So, they've been an integral part of the community," co-chair of the renovation project, Robert Brady said.
Engineers have deemed the stadium -- which was built in 1938 -- unsafe. Just four months ago school district officials announced they needed to raise $1 million to help pay for the $5 million project. Gerard's donation boosted the total amount raised to $1.4 million.
"We've known we have to do something to the stadium. We didn't know to what degree we could improve and upgrade the stadium. As it turns out, we're going to be able to make major changes," superintendent Dr. Henry Scott said.
The old stands will be torn down. The north and south field houses will be demolished in favor of a new one to house both teams, a concession stand and restrooms. They'll also enhance the east side of the stadium, and upgrade the lighting and sound system.
Construction will begin after the 2013 football season.
Officials say the entire project wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for the generous donors.
"Every body in the community come together and this is truly a community project," Brady said.