Alethea Roads, First Lady of of Wonderland passes away

By | July 28, 2016

IMG_1099AMARILLO, Texas — Alethea Roads passed away on Tuesday, July 26, at a hospice in Amarillo, Texas. She was 100 years old. Alethea & her husband, Paul Roads, founded what was originally Kiddie Land in August 1951 at Amarillo’s Thompson Park. Kiddie Land opened with three rides — a kiddie car ride (built by Paul Roads), kiddie boats, and a Herschell Li’l Dipper roller coaster. For the first several years, Paul held a full time day job and spent his nights and weekends working at the park. In 1958 he quit his day job to work full time at the park. Inspired by Alice in “Through the looking Glass,” Paul & Alethea changed the name of the park to Wonderland in 1967. Alethea ordered supplies, sold tickets, kept the books, managed personnel, and was in charge of customer relations. Alethea was the only person in the office until her daughter Paula began helping in the 1970’s. When Paula’s husband, Paul Borchardt, finished his stint with the U.S. Navy, the two relocated to Amarillo to help run the park. Today Alethea’s daughter and son-in-law Paula and Paul Borchardt (also known as P.D.) run the park along with Alethea’s granddaughter, Rebecca Parker.

Alethea was a role model for all her employees. Young people spent several summers working for Mrs. Roads and former employees often returned to visit Mrs. Roads to thank her for the knowledge they gained while working at Wonderland. She continually stressed positive work ethics and many of her employees have become successful adults in education, business, finance, medicine, engineering, etc.

In 2003, IAAPA selected Paul & Alethea Roads to receive the 2003 Lifetime Service Award which recognizes individuals for consistent and long-term achievements in the amusement industry. The award reads “As founders of Wonderland in 1951, your work ethic and innovations have been an inspiration to small amusement owners everywhere. As members of IAAPA since 1962, your leadership and contributions have been invaluable.”

Alethea started a School Ticket Fundraiser with Wonderland Park, allowing grade schools and middle schools in Amarillo to sell ride passes to Wonderland, keeping 30% of the sales. In the 1950s Alethea was a Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader.

Alethea was awarded the Amarillo Women’s Network Lifetime Achievement Award for 2008.

In 2009, Wonderland Park received Amusement Today’s Publisher’s Pick Golden Ticket Award for Park of the Year.

The funeral will be held 11 a.m. on Monday, August 1, at Saint Paul United Methodist Church. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2820 Virginia Circle. The family suggests memorials be made to the Saint Paul United Methodist Church, 4317 I-40 Frontage Rd, Amarillo, TX 79106; or the Khiva Shrine, 305 SE 5th Ave, Amarillo, TX 79101