Letter to the Editor

Ernie Weyeneth never forgot his roots

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

EDITORíS NOTE: On March 2, Neb. Gov. Pete Ricketts named Ernie Weyeneth, a Beaver Valley and McCook-area farm boy, a "Distinguished Nebraskalander" during a Statehood Day Dinner at the State Capitol in Lincoln.

Weyeneth was recognized for his service to Nebraska, including serving as president of the Richard P. Kimmel and Laurine Kimmel Charitable Foundation where he directs programs emphasizing education, agriculture and art and the humanities in Nebraska. In addition to its grant-making, the Foundation operates the artist residency center, KHN Center for the Arts, in Nebraska City.

In 2011, Weyeneth created the Kimmel Orchard and Vineyard Foundation which operates the Historic Kimmel Orchard, which is dedicated to agricultural education, research and historic preservation.

Weyeneth has also supported the preservation of the 1888 Danbury Depot Museum. Board members appreciate Weyeneth's support through the years, and board members Patsy Redfern and Raymond Kelley write:

In regard to the article about Ernest Lee "Ernie" Weyeneth in the Thursday, March 7, 2019, edition of the McCook Gazette, we would like to acknowledge Ernie for his generosity to the Danbury Depot Museum in downtown Danbury.

Ernest Lee's roots and genealogy are from the Beaver Valley. His parents were Leonard "Scoop" Weyeneth of the Marion community, and Lelia Jolly Weyeneth of Lebanon. His grandparents, Ernest and Grace Relph Weyeneth, farmed west of Marion, as did Ernie's parents. He and his brother, Dennis, and sister, Marilyn, enjoyed farm life, which included helping Grandpa Ernest and Uncle Norris and their dad on the farm in the early years of their lives. Due to a tragic farm accident, Ernie's father lost the use of one hand preventing him from doing heavy farm work. As a result, Ernie's parents moved to town to find employment. Losing this family from the Danbury-Marion community was a hard time for all of us, their family, friends and neighbors.

Ernie never forgot where his roots began. One way he shows this is by being a very generous member of Danbury American Legion Post 276. Memorial time includes visiting the Danbury-Marion Cemetery to visit his parents' and grandparents' graves. This usually includes visits with former neighbors and friends. One such visit brought up the topic of the Danbury Depot Museum needing extensive repairs. The repairs made on the 1888 structure at the time of its move from the railroad to its present location on main street in 1981 was not as extensive as needed. Through his association with the Kimmel Foundation in Nebraska City, Ernie felt he could help us out a little and get the museum in pretty good shape from several more years. An estimate was made and a grant from the Kimmel Foundation was provided in two different parcels. The only stipulation being that it be used at times for educational purposes.

The Southwest grade school at Indianola helps with this stipulation every May by having the sixth grade students visit the Danbury Depot Museum for their spring field trip. They always enjoy this event. All schools are welcome. Anyone wishing to schedule a tour are encouraged to call Raymond Kelley at (308) 737-7235.

In order to obtain a grant from the Kimmel Foundation, certain criteria must be met in order to quality. In a restoration project such as the Depot's, an organizational group, club or business must be the responsible party. The Danbury Village is the owner and the Village Board is the responsible party taking care of insurance, groundskeeping, donations and other finances. The Depot Museum board members are responsible for the maintenance and operation of the depot.

So, thank you, Ernie, for thinking our project was worthwhile. Even through we are off the beaten path and our main street business are mostly gone, still standing very stately is the bright, newly-painted and shingled 1888 Danbury Depot. Again, thanks to you, Ernie and Jimmy Kimmel.

Danbury Village board members: Eugene Axtell, chairman; Shirley Axtell, clerk and treasurer; Roy Jordan, Carl Rae, Don Nichols and Ardith Berry.

Danbury Depot board members:

Raymond Kelley, Ardith Berry,

Eleanor Skiles, Shirley Wishon

and **Pat Redfern.

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