SHELDON—Wally Propst had an idea to honor his late wife, Janet, about 13 years ago.
Propst, who was a Sheldon native along with his wife, donated $13,000 to go toward a gazebo by the Sheldon Recreational Trail.
After going through a long process, the Sheldon Recreation Trails Board found the right spot to pour the concrete and build the gazebo.
The gazebo was placed along the trail near Hills Park on the Fourth of July weekend.
“It is ready to be enjoyed by everyone,” said trails board member Cheri Bosman. “This gazebo is a real asset to our trail because it is a beautiful memorial to the Propst family. I also think it is a fun little destination that anyone can walk or bike to from Hills Park.
“We wanted to place it somewhere that many people can get to easily and sit and enjoy the view from the trail.”
Being able to just sit, take in nature and have a relaxing moment was exactly the purpose Propst wanted for the gazebo.
Wally and Janet Propst were Sheldon natives who moved to California in 1952.
Wally Propst told his plans to Glen Goedken, the owner of Goedken Monuments in Sheldon, who he had make a plaque to honor Janet.
“Wally came into here and he said he was donating money for a gazebo by the trails,” Goedken said. “His idea was he wanted it by the trails so if it started raining or if it got hot or if someone wanted to ‘smell the roses’ as the saying goes, he wanted a place for them to stop, whether they were biking or running or walking.”
The plaque was placed in the concrete in front of the gazebo and reads “This gazebo is a loving memorial for my wife Janet Nelson Propst.”
Propst was unable to see the completion of the gazebo as he died in 2016.
“I’m tickled pink for Wally, I just wish he would’ve been able to see it,” Goedken said.
It took some time to determine where the gazebo could be placed along the trail due to getting an easement or finding a spot that was already city property.
While it was a lengthy process, the spot fit Propst’s vision well.
“It’s fantastic. To me, it’s exactly what Wally told me he wanted,” Goedken said. “He never gave a specific place. It’s exactly what Wally had in mind.”
The next hiccup in the process was the original design was for a vinyl gazebo, but that type is no longer made and vinyl would not withstand Iowa winters.
“We needed to find someone willing and able to design and construct a wood one,” Bosman said. “We contacted Randy Grevengoed with Live Edge Sawmill & Custom Woodworking in Boyden to build it for us. The gazebo is made from cedar.”
Then the rec trails board went to Farmers Market Concrete & Excavation in Sheldon to pour the concrete to place the gazebo and the plaque.
“It’s beautiful. We’ve gotten a lot of really positive feedback on it, too,” said trails board chairwoman Melissa Bohrer. “Wally and his wife really loved the trails.”
There is still one item left to add to the gazebo, though.
Goedken is finishing a bronze plaque with a poem that Propst’s family wants to go with the gazebo.
“I just got a print of that not too long ago and they wanted me to come up with a bronze plaque,” Goedken said. “There will be a bronze plaque mounted and it will be put up in front of the gazebo.”