An estimated crowd of 100 people, including family members and area residents, gathered on the southwest corner of S. Sycamore Street and Wisconsin Avenue on Friday morning for the unveiling of the Fleener-Beck Memorial Plaza.
"I think it's just beautiful," said Joan Petrie, a Beck family relative, who grew up in Greensburg and drove from Wichita. "It is just such a tremendous thing, it shows a real sense of committal."
The memorial, designed by Wichita-based artist Todd Whipple features clouds, covered wagons and cowboys etched from large sheets of iron.
"To me, the pioneering spirit can be summed up in one word, perseverance," said Whipple. "This is immortalized in our state motto 'Per aspera ad Astra' or 'to the stars through difficulties.' Unlike anywhere else I know of, that spirit is alive and well here in Greensburg."
John Fleener, son of Weaver Fleener and Emily (Beck) Fleener and grandson of Kiowa County pioneer William Lewis Fleener spoke briefly during the ceremony. Fleener and his three siblings were born in the house that once stood on the corner, a corner that is now the site of a memorial bearing his family name.
"Our families are very grateful to the mayor and city council for allowing us to have this sculpture here," said Fleener. "We agreed that it would be generous to give this property to the city with the hope that there would be a memorial plaza honoring not only our parents and grandparents, but the people and builders of Kiowa County past and present. We are so thankful for all of them."
Fleener also commented that the day of the unveiling, Aug. 3 was his father birthday.
Paul Fleener, another son of Weaver and Emily read a selection of bible passages, which he said were a few of his father's favorites.
Mayor Robert Dixson and Greensburg Tourism Director Stacy Barnes also spoke.
The Fleener family donated the corner plot of land to the city after the house and surrounding property was destroyed by the May 4, 2007 tornado. The city paid a total of $35,000 for the memorial. The design was approved by the city council on April 16. Whipple finished the memorial nearly a month before the Sept. 1 construction deadline.