GERMANTOWN—A new sign at the front of the children’s playground in Palatine Park remembers and thanks James R. Wiener for all of his contributions—time, funds and expertise—to the town for its children. Most recently, funds bequeathed by Mr. Wiener purchased new playground equipment at Palatine Park.
Mr. Wiener and Marie Cole Wiener, his wife, moved to Germantown in 1994. They renovated a riverfront warehouse into a home, office and studio space for Ms. Wiener, a landscape painter.
Mr. Wiener retired early from his corporate law practice in New York City. He gave his time and expertise to the Germantown, working with then-supervisor George Sharpe, particularly on activities and facilities for children. (Between them, the Wieners had six adult children, and now, numerous grandchildren.)
Mr. Wiener was “caring, generous and jovial,” recalled Jeremy Smith, a member of the Germantown Board of Education. “He was an all-around educator and a good listener.”
When Mr. Wiener died in 2004, at the age of 63, he left a trust fund of $50,000 to benefit Palatine Park. The fund worked well for maintenance and repairs as long as interest rates were strong. But rates fell, and the town needed to replace outdated playground equipment, an expensive proposition.
The family gave the town permission to withdraw funds from the trust to renovate the playground and buy new equipment.
The playground is backed on one side by woods and on another by picnic tables. A new asphalt walk makes it completely accessible. The deep bed of mulch keeps the ground soft against kids’ falls. Town staff report that the playground is used daily in good weather. A new swing allows a parent and a toddler to swing together.
“The reason I came to Germantown [in 1988] was because it looked like a great place to raise children,” said Supervisor Joel Craig, the father of four. “I can’t think of a better legacy for Jim Wiener than to leave something like this for kids.”