‘Mother’ of Crazy Horse Monument dies

This early 1950s photo provided by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation shows Ruth Ziolkowski helping her husband Korczak Ziolkowski, build the log studio-home at Crazy Horse Memorial near Custer, S.D. Ruth Ziolkowski, the widow of the sculptor of the Crazy Horse Memorial, died Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at age 87. Ruth took over the dream of her husband, upon his death in 1982 and turned it into a multimillion-dollar operation that draws more than a million visitors a year. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation)
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.

This August, 2001 photo shows the face of the Crazy Horse monument. Photo: Francis Temman/AFP Getty Images.

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.