Helen Meengs Memorial on the North Western State Trail

In Memory of Helen Meengs

Oden’s Gazebo Park on the North Western State Trail got some nice additions this year, thanks to one man’s care for the memory of his late wife.

Dr. William Meengs and his wife, Helen, who died six years ago, were Michigan trail enthusiasts who enjoyed riding their bikes – not only here, but all over Europe as well.

Helen’s abrupt passing shocked the Meengs family, but it also set in motion a plan to add local trail-side amenities at one of the couple’s favorite resting places on the North Western State Trail, Oden Gazebo Park.

Dr. Meengs said their frequent rest breaks at the Oden gazebo made them question why no picnic table was available for trail users and park visitors.

We thought it should have a table to sit at on a nice day,” said Dr. Meengs. “When Helen died unexpectedly in 2017, our family and friends raised money for a memorial and were able to fund the table and bike fix-it stand at the Oden gazebo.”

The new items were installed in early spring, with a formal dedication ceremony on Aug. 12. Several family members visited the area especially for the event.

The Meengs family moved here in 1975. Bill worked at the Burns Clinic (now McClaren Northern Michigan Hospital) for 38 years, retiring in 2013. Once the couple’s three children left the nest, they began cycling and soon acquired a tandem, their vehicle for many group bike trips. Locally, their favorite destinations were Harbor Springs and the Alanson Dairy Queen.

Their love of the trails and cycling led to this. Dr. Meengs said a few people were instrumental in getting the project approved and completed.

Sue Bouwense,” he said, “was very important in the funding, obtaining the photo for the plaque, helping with the early table and fix-it stand selection, looking at possible locations and establishing contact with Damien Henning, the Littlefield Township trustee. He obtained approval of the township board and assembled and installed the table and stand. (TOMTC Associate Director) Becca Nelson spent many hours visiting the site, scheduling, and coordinating everything.

I am pleased whenever I see people using the table and park facilities and I’m sure Helen would be also.”