Greenville Mayor Knox White announced today a $1 million donation to the Honor Tower at Unity Park. The Thomas and Vivian A. Wong Honor Tower will be dedicated to military veterans and first responders, offering a place of reflection and solemnity in the heart of the 60-acre Unity Park. One of the park’s largest donations to date, Vivian Wong and her late husband were longtime community philanthropists and entrepreneurs.
Vivian and her daughter Madina Cauthen were honored Thursday at an event attended by more than 100 guests and media.
“Being American really meant a lot to them. And I think the vision behind what the Honor Tower stands for was important to them,” Madina Cauthen said of her parents. “Greenville needs a place where they can honor first responders and veterans, and it will be a place of honor.”
The Wongs moved to South Carolina from Hong Kong almost 60 years ago. Over the years they built a restaurant business from the ground up, starting in Greenville with the first Dragon Den location. They became successful businesspeople and went on to invest in hotels, industrial projects and international business ventures. They channeled their success into the community and played a pivotal role in changing the face of downtown Greenville. They have given generously over the decades, including donating the land for the Cancer Survivors Park and the Patewood Medical Campus. Vivian has served on the Greenville Tech Foundation’s advisory board, supported community-focused charities like Goodwill and served as South Carolina’s honorary trade ambassador, appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley.
The Honor Tower will be constructed just south of the Reedy River, between what used to be Mayberry and Meadowbrook parks. The site location – between the two historically segregated parks – underscores the park’s symbol of unity.
When Mayor White approached Vivian to share the vision for the Honor Tower, there was no question she was committed. After surveying the sponsorship opportunities, she was quick to pledge $1 million for the tower.
“Vivian and Thomas Wong’s story epitomizes the American Dream,” said Mayor White. “As immigrants in Greenville in the 1960s, they embraced our city – integrated, built businesses and gave back. They seized every opportunity to be successful and contribute. Their philanthropic and community spirit ties in beautifully to what we’re building at Unity Park and the Honor Tower which sits at the heart of it. We are truly grateful for their generosity.”
About the Honor Tower at Unity Park
Rising 125 feet above the Reedy River, the Honor Tower will pay homage to law enforcement, firefighters, the military, utility crews, medical/EMS and public health workers. The iconic structure will have an observation deck offering panoramic views of Greenville, as well as a plaza at the base of the tower for public ceremonies, memorials, and tributes to veterans and first responders. Other contributors include Sharon and Heather Carlton, Erik Weir and AT&T.
The 60-acre Unity Park is a public-private project on the west side of Greenville that will knit together historic downtown neighborhoods. The park includes the protection and enhancement of the Reedy River and restoration of the historic Mayberry Park, along with playgrounds, pedestrian bridges, walking trails and welcome center. Its design follows more than a decade of community engagement, including meetings with the surrounding neighborhoods.