Debra Usinger, vice president of Usinger's Famous Sausage, passed away in July 2012 at the age of 58.¬† She was a friend and as I wrote when I heard the news two summer's ago one of the Milwaukee "area's biggest champions and most visible female entrepreneurs."¬† She had a story for everything and everyone and true heart of gold.
On Wednesday evening, friends, family and civic leaders gathered to commemorate a new memorial for Usinger.¬† Supporters raised more than $20,000 to commission a new sculpture on Milwaukee's Riverwalk and establish a maintenance fund that will help upkeep the newly renovated Edison Park that's just across the Milwaukee River from Usinger's and next to Rojahn & Malaney Co., 1005 N. Edison St.
Local artist Beth Sahagian-Allsopp created the bronze sculpture that has tree branches intertwining on a trellis to signify life and connectivity.¬† She also made the accompanying bench.¬† Sahagian-Allsopphas has several pieces on the RiverWalk and is an owner of Vanguard Sculpture Services.
Debra loved art and her wedding gift to me and my wife was a wonderful painting of small home with a tree in front.¬† It's simple, fun and to this day hangs in our kitchen.¬† I couldn't help but smile when this new tree branch sculpture was dedicated.
The memorial also is intentionally simple.¬† It was planned by Marsha Sehler and implemented by Keith Stachowiak of Uihlein/ Wilson Architects.¬†
Three dear friends of Debra's, Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown; Cecilia Gilbert, business liaison with the Milwaukee Department of Public Works; and Dan McCarthy, director of urban development at Zilber Property Group, led the fundraising efforts.¬† Marsha Sehler, Gary Grunau and others also helped spearhead the memorial.¬† Mayor Barrett and Deb's brother, Fritz, both spoke at Wednesday's dedication.¬† Nearly 100 people attended the dedication and post reception at Mader's.¬†
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