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Date of Issue: April 12, 2007

HB officials, family dedicate first tree in city program

ryskamp tree
Bill Ryskamp looks on as employees with Amerson Nurseries plant a southern magnolia in memory of his sister Ruth Anne Ryskamp.

Bill Ryskamp watched as two employees with Amerson Nurseries planted the southern magnolia he dedicated in his sister's memory on April 6.

"I think of the white blossoms this tree will have for my sister," he said.

The day marked the 59th anniversary of Ruth Anne Ryskamp's birth.

The planting of the tree in a public space that is evolving into a small park at Sixth Avenue and 37th Street in Holmes Beach marked a first in the city's tree dedication program.

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, Commissioner David Zaccagnino and parks and beautification committee members Dantia Gould, Kathy King and Melissa Snyder attended the dedication. So did Ryskamp's wife Sara and his niece, Esther.

The family chose to purchase and plant a tree for Ruth Anne Ryskamp, who died last May after a "valiant" fight against ovarian cancer, because it is a living memorial to the elementary school teacher from Michigan.

"I can't think of anything better," said Bill Ryskamp, adding that a tree was also dedicated to his sister at the school where she taught in Michigan.

The family chose Holmes Beach to plant another tree because they have vacationed in the city since 1974 and the tree was planted in sight of their vacation home.

"She would come here often," Bill Ryskamp said. "She just loved this area. She loved it very much."

The mayor, thanking the family, said, "We've got a lot of generous people in this community."

The mayor also thanked the parks and beautification committee members for pursuing a dedication program.

After the tree was planted and generously watered, Bill Ryskamp placed a plaque beside the magnolia. The sand-colored plaque reads, "When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

"Footprints," Ryskamp said, "were very special to my sister."

For more information about the city's tree dedication program, call 708-5800.