Memorial Program Plants Seeds for Many Generations
Jackie Kilcran and her six siblings wanted something unique and meaningful to give to their parents for Christmas last year.
And they found what they were searching for, but they didn’t find it in a store. Nor were they able to wrap it with a bow. In fact, they couldn’t even bring it in the house. They had to bring their parents to the gift.
Kilcran and her siblings presented their parents, John and Sara Schmitz of St. Charles, with a tree planted in Mt. St. Mary Park, their favorite park where they walk daily. The purple robe black locust tree is truly unique, as it’s the only one of its kind in St. Charles parks. It’s located along the walkway with a plaque that reads: “In honor of John and Sara Schmitz – True Example of Love.”
“They said it was the best gift ever,” said Kilcran of St. Charles, who made the purchase through the St. Charles Park Foundation Memorial Program.
“They love St. Charles, and they love that park. It’s a living piece of history and represents everything to them,” she added. “The tree is such a wonderful tribute.”
Although Kilcran knew where she wanted to plant the tree, she needed advice on which tree was best.
That’s where David Svitak came in. The St. Charles Park District arborist suggested the purple robe black locust to add a new species to Mt. St. Mary Park, since it’s the district’s arboretum park. “It’s so unique and such a delight to have it there,” Kilcran agreed.
Svitak works with individuals throughout the tree planting process, which begins with an online application. He then meets with and educates them on why a certain tree is right for a particular location.
“I discuss how different species of trees will grow in different conditions and mature overtime,” he said. “We don’t want to overpopulate or crowd a particular area in a park, for example. But together, we find the right tree in the right location for families and friends to enjoy for many generations.”
About 20 trees annually are planted through the Memorial Program. While more than half honor a loved one who has died, Svitak confirmed other reasons for planting a tree include celebrations such as anniversaries, engagements and retirements, as well as giving a unique gift.
The Memorial Program also includes benches in park district parks and trees at Pottawatomie Golf Course.
Golf Course Superintendent Denise Gillett-Parchert said they have several trees that have been planted to honor generations of family members who have played at Pottawatomie; friends who regularly golf together; as well as, loved ones who have died.
For Geneva resident Jeff Mertz, he planted six trees through the Memorial Program as a way to give back to Pottawatomie, where he plays regularly and volunteers his time in the off-season.
When he retired and after he had his right knee replaced, he became more active and found that Pottawatomie gave him the ability to play the sport he loved at a reasonable price.
“Golf has kept me active and the people there are really great. I’m not sure where I’d be today without Pottawatomie,” Mertz said.
“I wanted to give back to the golf course for that reason, so when I heard they were in need of trees, I planted two trees in each of my three daughters’ names,” he said.
“Planting trees through the Memorial Program helps the environment and aids in the beautification of the golf course, but it also leaves a legacy for many generations,” Gillett-Parchert said.
For more information about the Memorial Program, visit https://www.stcparkfoundation.org/memorial-program.