Trees honor memories, historyA living memorial to a famous shipbuilder and his son-in-law was celebrated earlier this month with a blessing of the trees. The two Maple trees were planted this spring at the entrance to Fraser Shipyards along East Second Street.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A living memorial to a famous shipbuilder and his son-in-law was celebrated earlier this month with a blessing of the trees. The two Maple trees were planted this spring at the entrance to Fraser Shipyards along East Second Street.
“They will be a beautiful backdrop to the new sign when the trees mature,” said Mary Morgan, Superior Parks and Recreation administrator.
Four generations of the family gathered at the site on July 17 to remember E.C. “Ike” Knudsen and Robert “Bob” Mayersak, Knudsen’s daughter, Margaret Mayersak, granddaughter Pam Berg, great-granddaughter Melanie Farmakes and great great-grandson Zachary Farmakes, all of Superior.
Knudsen was born in Denmark and raised in Superior. After years of study and apprenticeship in Copenhagen, he returned to Superior. He worked as a machinist, machine shop foreman and master mechanic in the shipbuilding industry. In 1921, he founded the Northern Engineering Company of Superior, which maintained Great Lakes freighters. In 1946, he purchased the American Shipbuilding Co. and reorganized it under the name of Knudsen Brothers Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. He ran it with his brother, Henry, until his death in 1953.
Berg said she often heard stories of her grandfather’s kindness toward his employees.
“His trademark was his cigar,” she said, pointing it out in pictures.
Knudsen was also a consulting marine engineer to the Globe and Butler Brothers shipbuilding companies in Superior during World War II. During that time period, Knudsen was responsible for the modification and successful operation of engines installed in corvettes that had been built for the U.S. Navy.
Mayersak worked for Knudsen Brothers Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. He later opened Bob’s Variety Store in Superior’s South End. He ran the shop, which had a penny candy counter that South End residents remember to this day, for more than 20 years.
Planting the trees was “very important” to the family,” Berg said, to honor both men. It also marked a partnership with the shipyard, which gave the city permission to plant the trees just over the public right of way.
“We’re delighted when people use the program in a way uniquely situated to their need,” Morgan said. The spot where the maples, which will blaze red in the fall, are situated makes them truly special, she said.
More than 400 trees have been planted through the city’s Tribute Tree Program, which began over a decade ago. This year alone, more than 60 trees were planted by businesses and individuals. Along with the trees for Knudsen and Mayersak, one was planted at the Veterans Flag Memorial in honor of the six Peters brothers who served their country during World War II and another was planted at the Cathedral Church rectory in honor of Steve Bachand. For more information on the program, go to Parks and Recreation under departments at www.ci.superior.wi.us.