On Saturday night at the 2016 Benton County Fair, the descendants of Bill and Earlene McKenna gathered with friends and relatives to officially dedicate the Bill and Earlene McKenna patio.
Bill was a lifelong farmer; Earlene had been a Jackson 4-Leaf Clover 4-H Club leader. They loved farming, 4-H and the Fair.
Now, the memorial patio that honors many other people has been named in their honor.
“John and several of the six kids were able to all help install the patio with the help of family friends, Ben and Bridget Seiler, Bill and Teddi Newton and the Mike and Laurie Ortner family,” said Nichole McKenna. “We spent a couple weeks before fair preparing the space and getting the pavers laid. The 4H foundation is selling the red colored bricks in the ribbon of the patio as a fundraiser for them.”
“About 10 years ago, John and Ben had built a small patio over by the 4h building but is wasn’t really usable and would get driven over,” explains Nichole. “So they tore that out a year or two ago and had inquired with us about laying them somewhere over toward the animal barns.”
The family brainstormed and thought maybe they ould do something more to honor Bill and Earlen.
“We had been trying to come up with some way to honor John’s parents with memorial money that we had. Bill passed away In November of 2001 from pancreatic cancer and Earlene in February 2010 from what had started as breast cancer and then led to her lungs,” says Nichole, who came up with an idea which she sketched out for others to review. “John and I met with Greg Walston and Dick Meyer to show them what I had designed and get the blessing of the Fair Board to put it in,” Nichole says. “The fair Board graciously supplied all the rock that is underneath the beautiful patio. The McKenna family took care of all the pacers and seat wall. We bought the two picnic tables and the barrels for flowers. Matt Marovec and Brenda Hackbarth worked diligently planting under the tree and filling the barrels for us. Cedar river garden center had donated a large quantity of flowers for them to plant at the fair grounds which worked great.”
The family also plans to bring flowers that once grew at Bill and Earlen’s farm.
“We plan to split some flowers that several of the McKenna kids have at their homes that were once at the farm where they grew up adding that extra personal touch,” says Nichole
McKenna family members participating in the project and ceremony include:
Charlie McKenna- Max, Madeline & Meredith
Tracy & Jay Severtsgaard- Tyler & Grant
Dan & Brie McKenna- Noel & Wes
Dawn & Karl Janssen- Carly & Sam
John & Nichole McKenna- Clayton,Will & Abby
Drs. Kate & Brian Hopper -Matthew
The family picture also includes Bill’s mom, Patty McKenna.
Bill and Earlene were long-time supporters of Benton County 4H and FFA, the Benton Co. Pork Producers and agriculture in general. Bill was a longtime seed salesman and farmer. Earlene was a Jackson 4-leaf Clover leader for many years.