Eau Claire woman's legacy lives on through city park

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- In 2002, an Eau Claire woman wrote in her final will that upon her death 115 acres of her family's land be donated to the city of Eau Claire. Now two years after Dr. Elizabeth Kye's passing, the deed is about to get finalized.

The three plots of land are located along S. Lowes Creek Rd. near Hwy 93. It’ll be called the Sid and Margaret Kyes Community Park, named after her parents.

The city attorney’s office said the estate attorney is working on finalizing the paper work and in the coming weeks, Kyes’ land will be signed over to the city.

Kyes’ grandnephew Luke Henning now lives at his great aunt Elizabeth’s farmhouse which is surrounded by future parkland.

“It was always something that was going to happen; she knew what she wanted to do with it. She wanted to call it the Sidney and Margaret Kyes Park,” said Henning. “She was a traveler; she went to every continent except Antarctica. She was always aunt Livvy to all of us.”

Kyes is a published author and educator who died at the age of 77. She was a tenured professor at UW-Stevens Point and came back to Eau Claire to take care of her mother, father and be with her older sister. She grew up on the farm which sits on the land her father purchased during World War II.

Henning said Kyes was always known to be a kind person, dedicating her life to family and students. She was also a philanthropist.

The 115 acres of land wasn’t given empty though. Kyes bought 60,000 trees from the Wisconsin DNR and the city and volunteers helped plant them.

“She basically had a vision in her mind,” said director of parks, recreation and forestry Phil Fieber. “One of the parcels would be more appropriate for active recreation, perhaps a small ball diamond. She had a vision for another parcel to be more of an area for group picnics, maybe a shelter or a restroom. And then her vision for the closest part to the creek was to keep it as natural as possible.”

It’s an area that will serve as a getaway from the city for kids and families.

Once the land is signed over to the city, signs which have already been made will be placed around the designated park area.

However, all three plots will remain open, green space until the city plans a budget for trails and possible benches, baseball diamond, etc.

“I had the pleasure to meet her ten years ago and anyone who ran into her would have to admit she was just a wonderful person and we're going to do everything we can to honor her and her wishes to have this land remain in public use,” said Fieber.

Henning said he’s excited to be able to witness the community enjoy and witness the legacy of his great aunt.

“I think this would be her primary legacy, it would be giving back to the community in Eau Claire,” said Henning.

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