Barbara O’Malley passed away this week, but her impression on the community lives on.
Barbara O’Malley, wife of Medal of Honor recipient Robert “Bob” O’Malley, had a hand in designing the eagle centerpiece of the monument standing at the Medal of Honor Park in Gainesville, according to officials with the Medal of Honor Host City Program.
She died Monday, Jan. 27, at the age of 78.
Years ago, when GNB was still in business, the firm offered the MOHHCP some property, according to Don Pettigrew, who helped establish the nonprofit organization.
Pettigrew said Friday, Jan. 31, that he knew the Goldthwaite resident was an artist and he was familiar with a print she designed in the 1980s.
The print Pettigrew recalled is titled “Uncommon Valor...The United States Marines.”At the time of the artwork’s release, Barbara O’Malley went by the last name Rider, according to information provided with the print.
Pettigrew said he reached out to Barbara O’Malley to design a monument for the base of a flagpole, while adding he thought it would be great if a MOH recipient had a connection with “whatever we were going to do.”
The organization never received the property at the bank, but her design, which incorporated an eagle, was not forgotten.
When it came time to design the Medal of Honor Park, which is near Medal of Honor Boulevard and Culberson Street, her design was brought back to the fold — just on a much larger scale.
“We just adopted what she originally designed,” Pettigrew said of enlarging what’s now the park’s centerpiece.
Pettigrew said Barbara O’Malley loved Gainesville and its MOHHC events.
The nonprofit hosts recipients of the U.S. military’s highest honor in town each April. Gainesville is the only Medal of Honor Host City in the nation.
“Our event was the only one she ever wanted to attend,” Pettigrew said. “She was a very, very nice lady.”
Medal of Honor Host City Program Board President Tommy Moore said Bob and Barbara O’Malley first came to Gainesville in 1999.
He said the O’Malleys were present at the park’s opening in April 2015.
“Barbara’s vision became a reality on that day and her fingerprints will be forever on this community,” Moore said. “It is just another reason we do what we do. Without this program we would have never met the O’Malleys and we would not have this park to show the patriotism of our community.”