Tree pays tribute to former teacherAs an educator, veteran and father, Louis Thompson left his mark on Superior.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
As an educator, veteran and father, Louis Thompson left his mark on Superior.
“I always considered him to be the No. 1 advocate for the school kids of Superior,” said Thompson’s son, Ken. “Through all his years in Superior as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, administrator and school board member, the overriding concern for him was always: What’s best for the kids? That’s the reason he was still serving on the school board up to the time of his death at age 81.”
Ken Thompson remembered spending Saturdays in the gymnasium of Howe, Lincoln or Central schools while his father caught up on paperwork. The Superior man’s dedication to his work trickled down to the next generation.
“I guess my Dad influenced me into teaching, even though I probably would never have admitted that,” said Thompson’s daughter, Lori Foley, a fourth-grade teacher at Northern Lights School. “I would hope his influence continues in Superior through my teaching.”
She recalled how Thompson, a World War II veteran, visited her class every year to discuss his service in the European Theater. The Superior man was also part of the VFW Memorial Day ceremony in Washburn County every year until his death.
“They would march at the local ceremonies and he enjoyed being their chaplain,” Foley said. “He was very proud of his military service and was always willing to share with others if asked.”
This year, Thompson’s family chose to give the community a living legacy — a tribute tree — in their father’s honor. The tree, purchased through the city of Superior’s Tribute Tree Program will grow and cast its shade within sight of Superior Middle School. The site is appropriate, Foley said, because her father was instrumental in passing a referendum to build SMS and Northern Lights School.
“He passed away in April 2003 so did not get to see the finished SMS building,” Foley said. “The tree will overlook the school he never did get to see.”
Begun in 2001, the program is geared toward restocking boulevards. For $150, a maple, linden or Japanese lilac tree is planted in the city right-of-way. The tree can stand as a memorial for a loved one, or as a thank-you, anniversary or birthday gift.
“Some citizens simply make a gift of adding boulevard trees … even if they don’t have a particular memorial in mind,” said Mary Morgan, parks and recreation administrator. The city digs the hole, plants the tree and cares for it. Each tree is guaranteed for the first year — if it doesn’t survive, the city will plant a new one in its place.
Marianne Peters planted her first tribute tree — a red maple — in memory of her husband, Floyd.
“I loved my husband and I have to show that,” said the Billings Park resident. “I love having the tree.”
In the following years, she has planted a tree for the minister who presided over their marriage, planted a few as birthday presents and added trees to her husband’s legacy.
“I call this my smoking and drinking money,” joked Peters, who doesn’t smoke or drink.
The trees benefit everyone. They take up stormwater and increase property value, Morgan said.
“It brings shade to your house for summer, it’s better for your house in the winter,” Peters said. “Birds love to be in the trees.”
“And they provide grace and beauty in the community,” Morgan said. In addition, every tree planted is a pre-emptive strike against a possible infestation of Emerald Ash Borers. About 18 percent of the trees in city right-of-ways are ash trees, according to Morgan.
“If the city is infested with the Emerald Ash Borer we will lose ash trees,” she said. The program plants diverse species of trees that are not susceptible to the small, metallic green insects.
This year, Peters plans to plant a tree to honor the work of the Rev. Joel Certa-Werner and his wife, Rev. Barb Certa-Werner.
“It is a thank you,” Peters said. “I think they do a tremendous job at the church” while running three Harbor House Crisis Shelters and raising four children.
Murphy Oil USA Inc. will add approximately 60 trees throughout the city this spring, which should bring the total number of tribute trees in the city to more than 150, Morgan said.
And the Thompson family will remember a father, veteran and lifelong educator.
“He really left something positive behind in our city,” his granddaughter, Marissa Foley, wrote in a recent school paper. “I hope that I will be able to leave a legacy behind, just like he did. By seeing what he has done, he has inspired me to make something of my life.”
“I know he would be very happy and proud that this tree is on the grounds of one of the new schools,” Ken Thompson said.
The trees will be planted June 10. For more information on the Tribute Tree Program, contact the Superior Parks and Recreation Department at (715) 395-7270.