After the sudden passing in 2004 of James P. McEntee, Sr., who held leadership positions in County Human Relations, from 1976 to his retirement in 2003, a group of community members active in supporting the mission of the Office of Human Relations established the Jim McEntee Legacy Committee (read more). Their goal, under the leadership of Gertrude Welch (read more) and Ann McEntee, was to promote and continue Jim's legacy of peace and justice.
On June 7, 2005, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors named the County's Civic Center Plaza after the late James P. McEntee, Sr. The Board’s decision was based on the recommendation of the Jim McEntee Legacy committee, which held two public meetings where residents expressed their sentiments on how best to honor Jim McEntee’s memory. See press release.
In January 2006, the Legacy committee contracted with well-known San José artist Carlos Pérez of the ArtOrigin Design Team to create a piece of artwork that would carry on Jim’s message of peacemaking, nonviolence, and respect for diversity. For the Jim McEntee Art Project, Carlos and the committee held a number of focus group meetings throughout the county, meeting with a wide variety of communities with which Jim had worked. Three important considerations for the design emerged from the public forums :
In addition, the design could include elements such as a dove of peace and symbols associated with the diverse cultural communities that Jim served.
On February 26, 2006, the Legacy Committee presented the concept to the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors and received their approval. In addition, the Board approved contributing $15,000 to the project for glass replacement costs for the art mural and signage for the project. See press release. The design includes two main components: a window mural depicting important elements of Jim’s life and career, and a Gathering Place for Peace on the plaza.
In January 2008, The Legacy committee hired Delgadillo& Associates, including well known fundraisers, Mary Rose Delgadillo & Judy Armstrong, to conduct a capital
campaign. Potential donors were invited to purchase tiles or benches in memory of Jim. The tiles would frame the gathering place on the plaza.
The committee also created an honorary committee of community leaders whose names and respect for Jim and his work would inspire others to participate. They included:
Monsignor Eugene Boyle
Carmen and Alcario Castellano
Michael E. Fox, Sr.
Hon. Susan Hammer and Phil Hammer
Hon. Mike Honda
Hon. Zoe Lofgren
Bishop Patrick McGrath
Hon. Dianne McKenna
Hon. Susie Wilson
The generosity of our donors enabled this project to be completed. Major donors included the County of Santa Clara and the Board of Supervisors, Gertrude Welch (who sponsored the peace dove in the center of the square), Applied Materials (who sponsored the window), and the eight bench donors Asian Law Alliance,Castellano Family Foundation, Michael Fox, Sr., Diocese of San Jose, the McKenna Family, St. John Vianney Catholic Community, Bob and Nancy Weeks, and Susie Wilson. See the complete list of donoros
On May 7, 2010, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors, U.S., and local elected officials, and hundreds of interfaith and community leaders gathered in front of the County Government Center to dedicate the James P. McEntee, Sr. Plaza and unveil the Jim McEntee Legacy Art Project See associated articles and press releases:
- Announcement of planned dedication
- Press release subsequent to the dedication
- Valley Catholic article about the dedication
- Speech by Ann McEntee, Jim's widow and president of the Legacy committee.
A Gathering Place for Peace, dove mural with benches and commemorative tiles on the plaza
Window Mural, depicting important elements of Jim's life and career.
Panels inside the lobby with text containing information about Jim's life and a thank you to donors.