Ruth Ziolkowski, who died yesterday, is a vanishing breed in America; like her husband, she was willing to spend her life energy on a project that could not possibly be finished in her lifetime.
She arrived in the Black Hills in 1948 from Connecticut because she wanted to help Korczak Ziolkowski turn a mountain into a monument to Crazy Horse, the Oglala Lakota warrior. Two years later, they were married.
He died in 1982 and she took over the project.
The family has followed Korczak Ziolkowski’s admonition to refuse government help to finish the project.
Other family members have taken over the project and it seems unlikely it’ll be completed by the time they pass on.
And because of them all, the monument, when done, can lay claim to being the most meaningful monument in the entire country.