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Former mayor, husband honored for effort to restore Marshall Depot

By Robin Y. Richardson
Sept. 29, 2012 at 10 p.m.

<p>Former Mayor Audrey Kariel flashes a smile at the crowd while patting her husband on the shoulder as the two are honored Saturday.</p>

The Texas Eagle Market and Performance Organization returned to Marshall Saturday in celebration of its 15th anniversary and to honor local couple, Louis and Audrey Kariel, in their efforts to save and restore Marshall Depot.

"Audrey and Louis Kariel and many others in Marshall accomplished a miracle when they saved the historic T&P station from the wrecking ball," said Dr. Bill Pollard, president of TEMPO.

During that period, he said, things were a bit bleak for passenger rail and for historic preservation. However, Mrs. Kariel, who was serving as the mayor of Marshall at the time, began spearheading efforts to save the building, which was set to be demolished.

"The T&P shops had all been bulldozed, but the passenger station was the last true surviving piece of T&P history in a town that was basically built by the Texas and Pacific Railroad," Pollard said.

Naysayers said it would be impossible to save a passenger station that was sandwiched in between two main lines, he recalled. And with liability issues in mind, he, too, had his doubts.

"It was a beautiful old building, but (we) were afraid it was probably not going to make it," he said. "Well, we were all wrong and they were right and look (at) what a historic gem that Marshall, Texas has today."

"The vision that saved that depot for Marshall did a huge favor for people along the Texas Eagle route," he said.

Because of their vision, both AMTRAK and TEMPO officials surprised the Kariels Saturday evening, unveiling a plaque dedicating the station's waiting room in their honor.

Engraved in gold letters, the plaque reads: "This waiting room is dedicated in honor of Mayor Audrey Daniels Kariel and Louis Weisman Kariel for their commitment to the preservation of this depot and to the growth of passenger rail service in our region."

Pollard said the plaque is the third one that the groups have presented in this division to hang in Amtrak waiting areas in honor of someone.

The Kariels were pleasantly surprised by the honor.

"I'm really overcome and I am very, very humble and surprised and happy," Mrs. Kariel said, addressing the audience as her husband stood by her.

Mrs. Kariel said it is amazing to her what people can do when they rally together for something they want.

"I think that's what happened with our depot," she said. "It did seem like an impossible task, but it was a public/private partnership which is what we're so much in need of in today's world.

"I saw it happen time and again in this town, the public/private partnerships work and when citizens truly want something, they can do it and we did it," she said.

Ms. Kariel said she and her husband do what they do because they love Marshall.

"I don't think we ever thought of it as work," she said. "We did work hard and it did take a lot of people, and it will always take a lot of people."

"Louis has always supported me and enabled me to do things that I couldn't even dream that I could do, so we are a team," she said, giving her husband a peck on the lips.

Joy Smith, superintendent of passenger services for Amtrak's central division in Chicago, said honoring the Kariels was the highlight of her day. She said she became familiar with Mrs. Kariel in 1994 when the then-mayor kept calling her office in Chicago trying to fight for Marshall's station. The two played phone tag for months, and Mrs. Kariel finally caught up with the superintendent at a meeting in Dallas.

"Me and her have been friends and partners ever since," said Ms. Smith.

She thanked the Kariels for the commitment and dedication they have in passenger rail and for not giving up.

"We would not be standing here today, and that Marshall station would not be that beautiful station that it is with a staff employed in it seven days a week if it not had been what we did all those years ago," said Ms. Smith. "The dream was a real dream; the dream was a good dream; the dream was the best dream, and what she did in helping Amtrak was to realize that dream."

Dr. Pollard said the fact that the station will celebrate its 100th birthday in October is something to commemorate in itself.

"If you saw the station and the way it was before and you look at it today, all of us in passenger rail owe the city of Marshall, owe Mayor Kariel a big debt of thanks," he said.

Ms. Kariel said after the ceremony that living in a small town gives one such wonderful opportunities to work with people.

"Transportation is important to our city and its future and we must continue to work together to ensure that opportunities are always available to us in a small community like Marshall."



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