Guest Editorial: A perspective from Woodlawn superintendent


by Tim Leahy, Woodlawn Cemetery superintendent

Life can be challenging, baffling and even surprising all at the same time. On September 11, 2019, as I was heading to work at Woodlawn Cemetery, I received a message from one of my employees stating a disaster had occurred at the cemetery grounds. I knew the night before the weather in Winona had turned ugly with strong winds and so I figured maybe a tree or two came down in the cemetery grounds. Boy was I wrong!

Woodlawn Cemetery looked like a war zone with large 100-year-old trees uprooted and thrown to the ground. Roads were destroyed by the massive roots of these trees. Numerous headstones were knocked down like someone was playing a game of dominoes and the main roads leading into the cemetery were not accessible. All of this destruction was caused in 60 seconds by an EF1-Tordano that went through the center of the cemetery.

Over the past couple of weeks, the majority of the massive fallen trees and branches have been removed from the cemetery. I am immensely grateful to all of the volunteers who came out to lend a hand, provided their chainsaws and worked to assist in our clean-up efforts.

The next step will be assessing the extent of the damages within the cemetery grounds. I have met with our insurance adjuster to submit a damage claim. Unfortunately, the majority of damage was caused by Mother Nature and the clean up and removal of the trees and road damages are not covered by insurance. At this point the estimated total damage is at least $200,000.

As result we have started a fundraising campaign called Cemetery Aid 2019 to offset all of the costs involved in restoring the cemetery grounds. If you have already contributed to our relief efforts, thank you. If you have not and wish to contribute, please send your contribution to Woodlawn Cemetery, 506 West Lake Boulevard, Winona, Minn., 55987. Woodlawn Cemetery is 501c 13 nonprofit organization and all donations are tax-deductible. You can learn more details on our website at

I also want to acknowledge the following groups and individuals who have been a tremendous help in our recovery efforts:

• City of Winona employees and the Park and Recreation Department and Tree Service personnel

• Winona Fire Department firefighters

• Darin Wolfe Forestry

• Kent Russell

• Dan Mrkvicka

• Pete Brueggen

• Steve Bennick

• Bonham Patrick O’Hamlon

• Bob Allred

• Bruce Eng

• Charles Mayer

• Brad Bartelson

• Tom Connell

• Pete Brueggen

• Brandon Czaplewski

• Shawn Bartelson

• Joel Corcoran

• Dave Ritter

• Derick Ritter

• Brandon Endmann

• Robert Ellings

• Steve Bennick

• Matt Lisowski

• Shawn Kohner

• Derick Ritter

• Mike Allred

• Brandon Luehmann

• Mark Allred

I want to especially thank all of the Woodlawn Cemetery employees. All of you have worked countless hours and have been an integral part in getting the cemetery grounds re-opened in time for the annual Voices from The Past Cemetery Walk. Thank all of you for your commitment, hard work and support of our beautiful Woodlawn Cemetery.


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