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Wilson Zmolek Memorial sculpture installed in Traer park

Ellen Wilson Zmolek Memorial Sculpture that was recently installed at the Wilson Nature Preserve. -- Photo Provided

Some residents of Traer recently noticed an addition to the Wilson Nature Preserve with the installation of a memorial sculpture in the northeast corner of the Preserve.

The sculpture is in memory of Ellen Wilson Zmolek who died April 8, 2019 in Rochester MN. Ellen was the only child of Carl and Evelyn Wilson, long time residents of Traer. Ellen donated the two-acre parcel of land to the City of Traer following the death of her parents. With the hard work and dedication of many local citizens, a reconstructed prairie with grasses, seventy-five flower species, native woodland and a butterfly garden ensued, resulting in the creation of the Nature Preserve.

Ellen was a “no frills” woman whose joy and presence inspired everyone who knew her. In keeping with these attributes and desiring to preserve the very essence of the prairie, the seven-foot sculpture of unpainted, re-purposed iron (Rustywear) was commissioned to Deb Roettger, The Blacksmith Boutique, a Dysart business.

The sculpture incorporates familiar flora and fauna of the prairie, generated from remnants of items from the Zmolek family farm. Leaves of the ginkgo tree that still grows at the original Carl and Evelyn Wilson home may be observed, as well as musical notes and butterflies. Care was taken in its design to maintain the simple beauty of the prairie. The unpainted sculpture was installed by Mike Joebgen (Sumner, IA) and Ned Vaughn, the Traer curator of the Preserve.

Funding for the sculpture and plaque was derived from donations by her classmates and friends.