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Officials unveil sign, plans for Superior's Carl Gullo Park

The legacy of a veteran and educator will live on in the East End park.

Folks admire the new sign at Carl Gullo Park in Superior after removing its cover during a ceremony
Folks admire the new sign at Carl Gullo Park in Superior after removing its cover during a ceremony at the park on East 5th Street on Tuesday, Sept, 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — City officials, neighbors and veteran organization representatives gathered Tuesday, Sept. 27 in East End to unveil a new sign at Carl Gullo Park and share the story of the park’s namesake.

The sign was made possible by a fundraising campaign launched by Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, who represents the Itasca and Allouez neighborhoods and a portion of East End. Contributions for the sign came from the American Legion Auxiliary 435, Disabled American Veterans 28, Bong P-38 Fund, the Development Association, Vic’s Crane and Heavy Haul, the Superior Evening Lions Club and the Retired Enlisted Association 119.

Carl Gullo.jpg
Carl Gullo was a World War II veteran, a longtime educator at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, and Superior's Citizen of the Year in 1987-1988.
Contributed / Jenny Van Sickle

"Thirty-four years ago, this park was dedicated to Carl Gullo, who was a U.S. Army staff sergeant, an educator in our community, a citizen of the year, and his legacy remains because he was so generous with his time and his friendship," Van Sickle said.

In his youth, Gullo helped build the vocational school on Belknap Street under the Works Progress Administration.

He was one of the first men from Superior to enlist during World War II and served from 1940 to 1945. He served as a staff sergeant with the 517th Parachute Company in France and Germany.

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He earned a Bachelor of Arts and master’s degrees at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, then went on to teach general education at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, now Northwood Technical College, for 33 years.

Superior City Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, left, speaks during a ceremony at Carl Gullo Park
Superior City Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, left, speaks during a ceremony at Carl Gullo Park on East Fifth Street in Superior on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

When he wasn’t teaching, he would put on his coveralls to paint and make repairs at the school, Van Sickle said.

"Carl retired in 1983 … in reality, he never stopped teaching,” Van Sickle said. “He just stopped drawing a paycheck. At his retirement party, he was overheard telling a student ,'Don't feel bad. I'm not leaving. I'm just retiring.' In 1985, the Evening Telegram called him Mr. Vo-tech. He was quoted as saying 'I love education and I love young people. That's why I'm here. I want to contribute something to the people I owe so much. It's been a part of me for 40 years.'"

At the time, Gullo was volunteering his time to maintain the campus. He was also a member of the Rotary Club, American Red Cross, American Vocational Association, Civil Defense Corp. and the UWS Alumni Association.

"To me, it felt like Carl's legacy was important to lift up in a modern conversation," Van Sickle said. "… The more I learned about Carl Gullo, the more I was touched by the depth of his service. From his service in the Army, this country, to the way he served his students and this community."

Superior City Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, left, chats with Superior Mayor Jim Paine after the sign unveiling at Carl Gullo Park
Superior City Councilor Jenny Van Sickle, left, chats with Superior Mayor Jim Paine after the sign unveiling at Carl Gullo Park on East Fifth Street across from the East End Fire Hall in Superior on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Gullo was recognized posthumously as the Citizen of the Year for 1987-1988, and his fellow Rotarians had the park dedicated in his name in 1988.

The sign is just the first change coming to the neighborhood park. After surveying East End residents and receiving about 170 responses, plans are in the works to revamp Carl Gullo Park, said Linda Cadotte, parks, recreation and forestry director. Improvements include a consolidated court for tennis, pickleball and basketball; replacing playground equipment near the new court; and adding a year-round restroom to the warming shack, she said.

"We'll start the prep this fall,” Cadotte said. “We'll let it settle over the winter and in the spring complete that project."

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Playground equipment currently located near the East End fire hall will remain in place until the new equipment is installed, then it will be used to provide spare parts for other parks, Cadotte said.

Linda Cadotte, the Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry for the City of Superior, speaks about improvements coming to Carl Gullo Park
Linda Cadotte, the director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry for the City of Superior, speaks about improvements coming to Carl Gullo Park during a ceremony at the park on East Fifth Street in Superior on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Kids won’t have to cross East Fifth Street anymore to get to the playground equipment, Van Sickle said.

Cadotte said the new sign was the impetus for planning to renovate the park.

"He touched so many people and I just thought that it was really important that people knew his story and how this park got its name," Van Sickle said.

The original plaque from 1988 is mounted under the new sign at Carl Gullo Park
The original plaque from 1988 is mounted under the new sign at Carl Gullo Park on East Fifth Street in Superior on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
People gather near the new sign at Carl Gullo Park after a ceremony at the park on East 5th Street
People gather near the new sign at Carl Gullo Park after a ceremony at the park on East Fifth Street in Superior on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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