DALLAS-A Dallas era quietly comes to a close today with a memorial service for John M. Stemmons Sr., one of a key group of real estate icons who moved a river so Dallas could prosper. The 92-year-old Stemmons, who had been ill for several years, died in his home over the weekend.

Stemmons led the way for a flood-control project initiated by his father, Leslie A. Stemmons, after the 1908 Trinity River flood in which 11 people died and 4,000 were evacuated from their homes. The end result was the Trinity’s shift to the west, opening the door to create an industrial district that now includes the World Trade Center and Apparel Mart.

In the 1950s, Stemmons donated more than 102 acres to construct the 10-lane Stemmons Freeway in the riverbed following the Trinity’s diversion. The Stemmons family owned in excess of 10,500 acres in the flood plain, which went on to become the economic stimulus needed to guide the city to its current day prosperity.

Stemmons, an active civic leader in his heyday, was buried privately. A memorial service will be held today at 4 p.m. at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas.

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