Lucretia Edwards, Richmond Legend
By Susan Williams
Lucretia Edwards has a new park in
Richmond named after her. The 2-acre park in the Marina Bay
neighborhood is opening this month. It’s a fitting honor for
Lucretia. As Richmond legend has it, she started and led the crusade
to turn many acres of the City’s industrial areas into waterfront
parks for the public. Her efforts are said to have influenced the
formation of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development
Commission (BCDC) and Save the Bay.
Childhood summers spent at the New
Jersey shore fostered in her a love of the water. It’s no surprise
that she married a man who worked for Standard Oil, now called
Chevron, as an oil tanker docking pilot. Fifty-five years ago, they
bought a house in Point Richmond with a panoramic view of the Bay.
Lucretia raised three children in that house, and she lives there
still. Her oldest son is carrying on the family tradition by working
as an aircraft carrier docking pilot. "It’s like he knows how
to dock a small city," says Lucretia.
She credits her mother, a
"perfect Quaker lady" from Philadelphia, with instilling
in her a sense of equality and fairness, as well as civic
Lucretia, however, is much more
than civic minded. She has vision. From the day she arrived in
Richmond in 1948, she knew it was "ridiculous" that
Richmond’s 32 miles of shoreline offered only 67 feet of public
access. "I was enraged by what I saw," says Lucretia.
"You hardly knew that the Bay was there." Lucretia’s
refined manner and soft voice belie the strength of her opinions.
In addition to all of her good
ideas, she knew what she had to do to get the parks built, and her
commitment never wavered. "I joined the League of Women Voters
and started finding buddies who agreed with me. Then we just went to
meeting after meeting talking about how badly the City needed
waterfront parks." She took federal, state, regional, and local
officials—any officials who would listen—out to the Bay front to
see the possibilities firsthand. "We took them out one at a
time, so we could divide and conquer. We did a lot of walking."
Creating the Miller-Knox Regional
Shoreline Park is one of her proudest achievements. She lobbied
heavily for the park, and just as plans were solidifying, the owner
of a key parcel called Knob Hill decided to sell to a developer who
planned high-rise apartment buildings. Lucretia wept at the news.
Her husband, Tom, distraught at seeing Lucretia this way, bought the
land for her as a surprise gift. The Edwards kept ownership of the
land until the East Bay Regional Park District could buy it.
Other notable achievements of
Lucretia’s include helping to save the East Brother Light Station
from demolition, establishing the Home Health Hospice in West
County, placing Point Richmond on the National Registry of Historic
Places, and starting Friends of Richmond, an environmental watchdog
group. To ensure that the transformation of the former Kaiser
Shipyards would include public access, she served on the Marina Bay
Citizens Advisory Committee. Recently she worked with a task force
to develop plans for the reuse of Point Molate Naval Station.
Most of all, she is proud of the
many miles of parkland that now grace the City’s shoreline.
"I just love to look out and see all the people at the
parks," says Lucretia. Of all the battles she fought and won to
make the parks a reality, she says with a good-natured smile,
"They were kind of fun. And I made friends with my opponents in