Signage such as these at River Grove Park had to be replaced due to vandalism. Photo by Trilla Cook

There has been a sharp increase of vandalism the past few months at some Kingwood parks, according to the Kingwood Service Association,

“The Kingwood Service Association (KSA) has recently experienced an increase in vandalism in two of its parks,” said KSA President Dee Price. “Approximately 25 caution signs and road signs have been stolen out of River Grove Park and Deer Ridge Park. This has resulted in a cost of more than $1,500 to replace these signs. If anyone knows anything about the theft of these signs, they are asked to contact the KSA office.”

Not only park signs have had to be replaced but also a plaque from a memorial bench, which was recently donated to River Grove Park by a family honoring their late husband/father/grandfather. The Cook family and friends of the deceased were speechless to learn of the theft and could not comprehend why someone would take a memorial plaque.

Tom Duffee said he was shocked to find the plaque missing from the memorial bench of his best friend Estel D. Cook.

“On Feb. 8, I arrived at River Grove Park to do a little fishing off the bank by the boat ramp,” said Duffee. “Afterward I walked over to the memorial bench that the family had installed for my friend one year after he passed away.”

Duffee said a friendly guy named Larry was sitting on the bench and he struck up a conversation with him. “Shortly after beginning our conversation, I noticed that the plaque on the bench that bears my friend’s name was missing. Larry and I looked at the bench where there were now only four screw holes and no plaque. I was shocked. Who would do such a horrible thing — take a plaque that has little value? I likened it to taking something off someone’s grave,” Duffee said.

He said that he then began searching for the plaque, hoping whoever took it may have discarded it in the grass. “After walking the entire park, I couldn’t find it. The more I walked, the angrier I became. I could only imagine how his wife would react when I gave her the news. I told her and she was upset, but the good news was that she had a spare plaque. It has since been installed on the bench. Now we can only hope that it remains,” said Duffee.

The person sitting on the bench when Duffee arrived was Larry Shiflet who was on an outing with his dog at the park.

“A couple weeks ago I took my little dog, Greta, to the park. We go there two to three times a week,” Shiflet said.

After about 30 minutes of walking, Shiflet said they visited a new park bench donated by the Cook family for visitors to sit and enjoy the view.

“I was saddened and infuriated that some vile person(s) had taken a small plaque honoring Mr. Cook. We searched the area hoping that the plaque had been discarded, but to no avail,” he said. “To the person(s) responsible for this disgusting act, may karma find you!”

The memorial bench was donated to KSA by this reporter’s family in September 2021. “Shocked doesn’t come close to describing what our family felt upon learning the news. Thankfully, here happened to be a duplicate plaque due to a communication issue with the manufacturer. The question is, ‘Who would want to do such a thing?’ It makes no sense. There’s no other use for the plaque and there is no value in it.”

The family members were practically speechless when they heard the news. “Incredible,” said Matt Cook, son of the deceased. “I hope KSA filed a police report. It’s really awful.”

“That’s awful,” said Rob Kenyon, the deceased’s son-in-law. “I should no longer be surprised by just how lousy some people can be.”

“Oh my, I’m so sorry to hear that,” said Tracie Kenyon, Cook’s daughter. “I can’t believe it.”

When the story of the vandalism of the memorial bench was posted on Facebook, more than 50 family and friends commented in dismay. They said things like, “That’s just horrible; Who does that kind of thing; What a rotten thing to do; What a terrible thing to do and I hope they catch the person that did this; Such a hateful and disrespectful thing to do; Makes no sense; I cannot believe that and what kind of person could do that; So sorry, this is truly disgusting; That is just as low as it gets; I’m so sorry, there are some mean people out there; This is heartbreaking,” and many more statements of disbelief.

At the request of KSA, if anyone has any information regarding the vandalism at Kingwood parks, contact the KSA office at 281-358-5192 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Trilla Cook
Author: Trilla CookWebsite: www.trillastravels.comEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
A correspondent and travel writer for The Tribune for the past 10 years, I also enjoy writing for my blog at I retired from Humble ISD and previously worked for the W.Va. Legislature. Please leave feedback at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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