Harelson Park is one of the largest neighborhood parks in Tempe and has become one of the most popular parks in Tempe for its vast open space, tennis courts and other features.
The namesake for this south Tempe gem is none other than Harvey Harelson, whose family roots are long and deep in Tempe. Harvey arrived in Tempe in 1918 from his hometown of Quincy, Illinois at the ripe age of 27. He immediately went to work for the Tempe National Bank at 6th Street and Mill where he met his future wife Mabel whom he married in 1919.
At the time, the biggest employer was the Borden Creamery (now Four Peaks Brewery) and the namesake of Creamery Park. Fishing and hunting in the Salt River were popular activities and Harvey was a regular participant. A founding member of the Tempe Rotary Club in 1923, Harvey also severed as member of the Tempe City Council from 1924-28.
In 1942 he left banking and began an insurance business, Harelson Insurance Services also in downtown Tempe. In the mid-50’s he was joined in the business by his WWII veteran son James and later by James’ son Patrick. In all, three generations of Harelsons were involved in the insurance business in Tempe. Harvey and James were also active golfers who regular played Rolling Hills Golf Course, often 3 or more times a week.
While Harvey passed away in 1986, James continues to be an active Tempe resident who currently lives across the street from the park that bears his family’s name. The City and it’s current residents are lucky to have had such a leader as Harvey Harelson for 68 years and his children and grandchildren have continued his spirit of service still today.
Park size is 11.2 acres.