TRUCKEE, Calif. — Despite not having been able to see her goal of a Truckee Tahoe Airport playground realized, Katie Morrison will always be associated with it.
The alpine-themed playground structure adjacent to one of the airport’s runways was dedicated last week in Morrison’s name during a ceremony before family, friends, community members — and the occasional airplane taking off for the blue sky.
“It’s a nice tribute to them, and I think it’s something that Katie would really appreciate, my kids would appreciate,” said Jim Morrison, Katie’s husband and Truckee Tahoe Airport District board director.
In March 2011, Katie Morrison and her two children, Wyatt, 6, and Hannah, 5, died in a plane crash near Barstow, Calif. Katie, 37, was an airport board member at the time of her death.
“I was on the board with Katie for just a short time, but in that time I came to see her as so perceptive and so caring,” said Mary Hetherington, president of the TTAD board, at last Thursday’s dedication. “She just really touched me in that time. She was a special person, and I really feel that Hannah and Wyatt were, too.”
Katie was elected to the TTAD board in November 2010, and she contributed to the airport years before that by working with the district’s Airport Committee Advisory Team. She was also president of the Lake Tahoe Chapter of the 99’s Organization of Women Pilots.
Beyond aviation, Katie coached Truckee AYSO; was president of a local chapter of CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member); and a founding member and president of a local chapter of CREW (Women in Commercial Real Estate).
“(This is) a great way to remember all the great things that Katie, Hannah and Wyatt have done for us in the community, this airport, and it’s a way to share her passion for flying,” said John Jones, vice president of the TTAD board, who ran on the same ticket as Katie during the 2010 election.
As he spoke, he showed Katie’s Playground’s dedication plaque to the crowd, which details her role within the TTAD and shows Katie’s, Hannah’s and Wyatt’s smiling faces.
“What’s really great about this plaque and this dedication is — if you haven’t seen the pictures on this — you don’t have to use your mind’s eye (to see them),” Jones said. “You can come here and share time your time with Katie, Hannah and Wyatt.”
The plaque was set into a boulder bordering the playground, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony performed by Jim and Katie’s mother, Carol Jackson, that was met with applause.
The playground was made possible through a partnership between TTAD and friends of the Morrison family, who contributed nearly $25,000 to the $50,000 playground, said Kevin Smith, general manager of TTAD. Playground construction was completed in late fall 2012.
“It really has become a playground where aviation and our community can blend perfectly together,” Smith reflected.
Following the dedication, young children immediately took off for the playground and began playing on it.
“It’s really nice for me to come here and see families enjoying the park, kids enjoying the park and interacting with the airport,” Jim Morrison said.