HUMBOLDT, Neb. – Jan Wilhelm’s vision of building a memorial garden to honor cancer victims and others who have suffered from life-threatening illnesses almost didn’t happen…twice.
Seven years ago, she was approached by a friend who had lost loved ones to cancer and wanted to build a garden in their memory. They approached city council, but the project fell through.
While Wilhelm was on a walk in the fall of 2016, she discovered a sunken, quiet field she thought would make a beautiful garden. She designed her vision on paper, but her husband wasn’t on board at the beginning, because of the work effort and cost. She dropped the project again.
However at the beginning of 2017, Wilhelm received some motivation about the lot at 1st and Longbranch.
“In January, I’ll just say I’m not a very religious person, but I am now. In January, someone told me ‘Jan, get up. Get started. There is only two months left and it’s going to be spring. And if you don’t get started now, it’s not going to happen.”
Construction on the empty lot began with clearing the area of brush, debris and dead trees in February. Donations of plants, gravel, mulch and paver bricks began coming in shortly after. The process of completing the dream began.
Many hours of hard work donated by young and old citizens helped transform the empty space into flower beds, walkways, structures and soon-to-be statues.
Wilhelm, an employee at Humboldt Implement, and garden president Lois Luthy both knew this garden needed to be done, because they have lost many loved ones to cancer.
“We wanted it to be a happy garden, where people can come in, sit, meditate and remember good memories. I think we’re accomplishing that.”
The sidewalk and memorial pavers will be put in place this fall. Memorial pavers are available for purchase through Wilhelm and Luthy.
The Southeast Nebraska Memorial Cancer Garden is open and free to the public.
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