The quartet who comprise the Marquette Symphony Orchestra Summer Strings provided elegant music for the celebration.


By Joseph Zyble
On a glorious summer day, upon a hilltop overlooking the community and Lake Superior, the City of Marquette held a rededication of its Father Marquette statue and dedicated new park features in a celebration that was both joyous and bittersweet.
A large crowd gathered for the July 15 celebration. Attendees were greeted by the elegant music of the quartet known as the Marquette Symphony Orchestra Summer Strings.
During the rededication of the eponymous statue, Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee Vice President Barb Kelly told the audience that Father Marquette’s “iconic statue standing guard over our city is a priceless landmark, which reflects the history of our region and tells the story of this remarkable man.”

Father Jacques Marquette, who lived from 1637 to 1675, was a missionary, explorer, scientist, cartographer, scholar and frontiersman.
“In his short life of 38 years, he founded missions and charted unknown territories in what then was known as New France. He never returned to his homeland, nor saw his family again,” Kelly said.
She said that from the U.P. to the Mississippi River and on down to Arkansas, the French priest’s travels are celebrated with monuments, parks, rivers, towns and universities named in his honor.
“Father Marquette’s life, represented by his monument, teaches us lessons [such as] absolute devotion to duty, following ideals through privation and sickness and steadfast courage until the end. We’re indeed honored to be his namesake and as a community we are thrilled to rededicate this beautiful park and our historic statue on this glorious day,” she said.
The statue had some repair work performed to its base and to a bronze relief on its side in 2013 in phase one of the park improvement project. The second phase included installation of a handicap-accessible walkway, new seating, lighting, public art, fencing and security cameras. In addition, a scenic overlook and a memorial garden were established.
City Community Services Director Jon Swenson explained that phase two of the project was made possible by a $140,000 grant from the Michigan DNR, another $60,000 raised by the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee, a $25,000 grant from the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority and excellent collaboration among the officials and volunteers who worked together to bring the project to fruition.


Despite soaring temperatures, many people attended the July 15 celebration that featured the rededication of the historic Father Marquette Statue, and dedication of new features and artwork at the city’s park

The scenic overlook was named after Karl Zueger, who was the community services director at the beginning of the project but retired in 2016 following his diagnosis with the motor neuron disorder known commonly as ALS.
Zueger was in attendance at the ceremony, ready to celebrate the long-awaited completion of the project he began. During the dedication of the Karl G. Zueger Scenic Overlook, Swenson said that Zueger spent his career striving always to do what was best for the community.
“Many times he spoke about the importance of preserving Marquette’s soul, honoring our industrial roots, recognizing the amazing abundant natural resources and cultural resources that draw people to this special place and creating spaces and policies that ensure that these treasures are preserved and available to all,” Swenson recalled.
While working on the project, Swenson said Zueger was most passionate about creating a special place for people to enjoy the view. Early on, when commission members visited the park to explore possibilities for the second phase of the project, Zueger declared, “This is it; this is the view.”
The scenic overlook was established at that spot, and a rock bearing a plaque with the words “Karl G. Zueger Scenic Overlook” serves as a marker.
Swenson noted Zueger was humbled upon learning that the scenic overlook was to be named after him. He shared part of a letter Zueger wrote to the city commission upon hearing the news:
“… At first the objective was to provide access to the Father Marquette statue regardless of one’s physical limitations. As staff delved into the project, it became much, much more.
“It is a gateway, a place to pause, reflect and meditate. It is a place where the age dies to the past and the imaginative child’s eyes sees the future. It is a portal which connects nature’s and the community’s souls. In fact, it is really the location where it all began.”
Jill Zueger, wife of Karl Zueger, also spoke on his behalf at the dedication. She noted that while her husband is unable to speak, “he still has lots of words in him.”
She spoke about how in his mind’s eye, Zueger said he is able to imagine early explorers and settlers coming to the shores of New Worcester, later to be renamed Marquette. And she shared his expression of thanks to his family and the many people who were involved in the tremendous effort of making the park improvements a reality.
Another new park feature dedicated at the ceremony was the Tami Dawidowski Memorial Garden. Dawidowski was the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee president when the second phase of project began. She was credited for being the powerful, driving force behind it.
Emily Lewis, chair of the Father Marquette Park Committee, was tearful when she began the dedication of the memorial garden. She recounted that Dawidowski had moved to Marquette in 2012 and had become active on the beautification committee shortly afterward.
“In January 2014 … she graciously accepted the leadership role of president. Tami was a breath of fresh air and a sparkplug for the Marquette beautification committee, and led the committee with grace and style,” she said.
Lewis noted that Tami, along with committee member Jerry Irby, decided it was time to push forward with phase two and finish the park project. Dawidowski wrote the grant proposal that was a key part of raising the necessary funds.
“Sadly, in October of 2016,” Lewis said choking back tears, “Tami was diagnosed with cancer … I told her I will make sure this park will be completed for her.”
Dawidowski died on March 1, 2017.
Referencing an earlier moment when Karl Zueger made good on a long-ago promise to Dawidowski to make a toast on the day of the park celebration, Lewis said, “Guess what: Barb (Kelly) found roses that are planted in the garden, right by Karl’s overlook, that are called champagne kisses.”
“For those of us in Marquette, we only knew Tami for a few short years, but she inspired and touched all who met her. Today is Tami’s birthday, so it’s an extra special day to dedicate this gorgeous garden in Tami’s memory,” Lewis concluded.
New public art was created for the park by artist Ryan Brayak.
Kristine Granger, chair of the city’s Public Art Commission, noted that the amazing park benches Brayak crafted were made of kona dolomite, a type of rock found only in Marquette County. He also created a tall steel sculpture, resembling the bow of a canoe, that serves as an archway visitors walk through who enter the park via the accessible walkway. On the sides of the steel sculpture are outlines of the Great Lakes and Father Marquette’s path to the Mississippi.
A special honor was presented to the Marquette Beautification and Restoration Committee members for their work on the project, and a moment of silence was held to commemorate all of the people, hard work and passion that went into the making the park what it is today.

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