June 07, 2023

Visits with grandpa

Patty Mills DeVoe has always lived in Ohio. But her memories of her grandpa, Phillip DeVoe, exist in the little city of Creston from 1954-1964.

Phillip was the city engineer in Creston in about the 1940s-1960s, and Patty remembers her trips on the train from Ohio to Creston. “The city hall, the depot, we would get in at 1:30 in the morning,” Patty said. “I remember him picking us up at the platform.”

Philip was heavily involved in the development of the sewer lines in Creston and helping developing roadways. “He would drive us around in his car,” Patty said. “The roads were all gravel back then.”

When they first started their two week summer vacation in Creston, Patty vividly remembers it being really hot. “We used to play in the barn and fish in the pond,” she said. But in town, the only thing to do was go to McKinley Park.

Before 1901, McKinley Park was called Lake Park. At the time, there were 25 acres of native trees on the east side of the lake with an open section in the middle. The area was developed into a zoo which contained bear, elk, deer, antelope and wolf. It also included an aviary.

In 1948, the Creston City Council contracted Philip to design the new swimming pool and supervise construction at McKinley Park. The article on the front page of the Feb. 17, 1948, issue of the Creston News Advertiser said, “DeVoe said he will begin preparations of plans and specifications for the pool at once. It will require about three months for planning before construction contracts can be sought he said. He told the council he would recommend a five month construction period and that concrete work should be done in the next fall.”

Part of the reason Philip was chosen for the job was his experience. He had designed a number of pools in the area including the pool at the Southwest Iowa Council Boy Scout camp near Griswold.

The pool was constructed with funds raised by a $95,000 bond issue authorized in a special city election.

For reference, the upcoming Creston pool project updates will cost around $2 million.

When the pool was up and running in the summer of 1950, Philip showed his grandkids around his achievement. It was brand new, and Patty started playing there on her two-week trip.

“We’d get up and dance and just act silly at the pool,” Patty said. “You had to walk through this foot bath to sanitize your feet on the way in.”

Jessie Wilson married Philip in 1915. He was a part of the Iowa Engineering Society and had a degree from the University of Iowa. In the 1940s, he went to Boys Town, Nebraska to help revamp their sewer system.

William DeVoe, Philip’s father, was also an integral part in the development of the city. Patty said she believes DeVoe street in Creston may be named after him. Philip passed away in 1968 after many years of service to southwestern Iowa.

“He was a real quiet guy, but he was intelligent,” Patty said. “I didn’t know much about him, but he taught me how to use the slide rule.”

Cheyenne Roche


Originally from Wisconsin, Cheyenne has a journalism and political science degree from UW-Eau Claire and a passion for reading and learning. She lives in Creston with her husband and their two little dogs.