Highland Park, Community

$1 million donation comes in to support Highland Park’s permanent memorial

The City of Highland Park has received its first major contribution to a permanent memorial it is developing to honor those impacted by the 2022 Highland Park shooting.

Jon and Mindy Gray donated $1 million for the “place for reflection and remembrance,” according to a press release from the City.

Jon Gray is a Highland Park native and the president and chief operating officer of Blackstone, a leading global investment firm. The Grays helped spearhead initial relief efforts in 2022 with contributions to the Highland Park Community Foundation.

“I grew up not far from where the devastating tragedy occurred and have cherished memories of decorating my bike to participate in the July 4th parade,” Jon Gray said in a statement. “We continue to mourn with the community and our hearts go out to the victims and their families. Beyond providing immediate support to those impacted, my wife, Mindy, and I wanted to join in the City’s important effort to create a lasting place of remembrance and reflection for Highland Park.”

The City has also created a dedicated website to the development of the place of remembrance. The site contains information on upcoming meetings, local self-care services, volunteer opportunities and more.

According to previous Record reporting, in early 2023, the city began a “multi-year process” to develop and install a permanent site in honor of those impacted by the shooting, which killed seven and injured more than 50, on July 4, 2022. In the immediate wake of the tragedy, supporters built impromptu memorials near downtown Highland Park. The city then installed a temporary memorial for the seven victims near the City Hall rose garden. Officials have said that memorial will remain until a permanent replacement is finished.

In January, the City’s Place of Remembrance Working Group — which comprises Mayor Nancy Rotering, City Manager Ghida Neukirch, Park District Executive Director Brian Romes, City Resiliency Manager Cynthia Vargas and Councilmember Anthony Blumberg — reviewed a study on 11 similar memorials across the country, such as one in Parkland, Florida, to honor the victims of a 2018 school shooting.

The research of the memorials showed that on average they took five to 10 years from the related tragedy to complete and cost between $5 million to $10 million; though, outliers existed in each category. Many of the projects also benefited from the establishment of a foundation to aid fundraising.

The working group will again meet on Friday, March 1, then again on April 3.

“We are lifted by the kindness of former Highland Park resident Jon Gray and his wife Mindy,” Mayor Nancy Rotering said in a statement. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for this generous gift that will help us create a permanent place of remembrance, a critical part of our community’s long-term resiliency.”

Until the permanent memorial is complete, the temporary memorial located at the Rose Garden adjacent to City Hall will be maintained, the City has pledged.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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