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April 21, 2019

3/13/2019 10:31:00 AM
The 'Quiet Place' at Windom dates back 11 years

On May 22, 2008 first-graders at Winfair School gathered west of the swings on the north side to dedicate a small piece of ground to classmate Waylon Menssen, who died of an aneurism March 8.
Waylon, the son of Maina Simich of Windom and Jonathan Menssen of Jeffers, had autism. He was a member of Carrie Anderson's class and took special education classes with Mary Theesfeld.
The two teachers recall his sparkle and giggle. He made big strides since his kindergarten days.
"The kids miss him a lot. They were used to him coming in with us," Anderson said at the time of his passing. "The kids are handling it really well."
Two members of Waylon's class have special memories of the dedication.
Emma Snyder of the Class of 2019 responded to a query in a letter to the editor that appeared in the Citizen several weeks ago. It noted that children at Winfair now get together at the memorial site, which includes a small maple tree and rock.
Although the writing on the stone is hardly visible now, they know it is sacred and refer to it as "The Quiet Place." Snyder provided the answer.
"I remember being in Mrs. Anderson's class with Waylon and learning that he had died when I came to school that Monday," she said. "I also remember the dedication."
Mia Peterson added, "I was part of the tree-planting ceremony, and I was lucky to be one of the ones who shoveled All the first-graders were there."
In May of that year, Theesfeld sent out an appeal for Winfair staff and community members to contribute to the memorial. The Boy Scouts also assisted with the project.
Mary and her husband, Rod, selected a tree and provided a rock from their farm. The etching includes these words: "Our Buddy Waylon Menssen 2000 - 2008."
"We used the surplus money for software that allowed the children to create designs," she recalled.
Many readers commented on the original letter to the editor, saying they were very touched by the respect the children show for the rock/tree.

Coralee Krueger is a former Windom mayor and also a former reporter for the Cottonwood County Citizen.

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