Remembering Ruskin Park

By Dorothy Weinberger
From my Facebook page Joe Tlustos writes – “A great day today as 75 or so gathered for the dedication of the new Ruskin Park historical marker just east of Forestburg. Thanks to Vic Zimmerman for dreaming big and thanks to the 60 who donated money ($2,400) to make it all happen. “
Vic Zimmerman, now of Buenes Park, Calif., acted as master of ceremonies and spoke of the history of Ruskin Park beginning in about 1890 and closing in 1967. That was a sad day for many. Daun (Rodee) Whetzel, formerly of Artesian, a descendant of the founder Hiram Rodee, and Karen (Siegenthaler) Crisco unveiled the historic sign. Karen is the daughter of the last owners.
From the pen of the writer, Dorothy Weinberger, I am related to both the Rodee family and the Dowdell family. I attended many Dowdell and Figland reunions over the years at Ruskin Park. My mother’s sister, Ellen Dowdell, and her husband, Bill, managed Ruskin Park in the late 1920s before moving to California.
The only living Dowdell descendent that I know of is Ron Chandler of the Los Angeles, Calif. area. His mother, Gladys Dowdell, was my first cousin. I kept in close touch with Ethel Dowdell Abild and LaVilla Dowdell Hammer both of Mitchell, as long as they lived. They were daughters of R.E. (Emmettt) Dowdell, the second owner of the park. Ethel lived to be 100+. I attended her 100th birthday party in the Holiday Inn at Mitchell.
Of the Rodee family, my cousin, Freya Schmus, and her granddaughter, Julie, always spent part of each summer in their home here in Artesian. They will be coming soon.
I have a 25-page history of Ruskin Park given to me by my cousin Karen Figland Smith. She is of the Rodee family. I also have a copy of the paper published by the “Daily Plainsman” of Huron in 1988. Bette Burg, a former Artesian resident, worked at the “Plainsman” at the time and put it all together. It is very interesting. Many wrote their memories of Ruskin Park and sent them to Bette to be a part of this special edition.

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