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FD woman’s love of Oleson Park is reflected in her gift

Donna Monkelien left $183,412.93 for the site

It was clear to many who knew her that Donna Monkelien really liked Oleson Park.

The rest of the city just found out how much she loved that park.

It was recently revealed that Monkelien, who died in December 2019 at age 89, had bequeathed $183,412.93 to the city specifically to maintain and improve Oleson Park.

It is the largest ever cash gift to a city park, according to Lori Branderhorst, the city’s director of parks, recreation and forestry.

Donna Monkelien and her husband, Richard, lived across the street from the park in southern Fort Dodge. They could see the park’s historic bandshell from their living room.

”She loved Oleson Park,” Branderhorst told The Messenger. ”That’s where she and her husband had their home. That was her neighborhood park. Something struck a chord with her with that park.”

Exactly what the money will be used for has yet to be decided, although Branderhorst raised the possibility of creating some scenic overlooks.

The Monkeliens had a front row seat for all the sights and sounds of Oleson Park. Through the passage of years, it became a very special place for them. And when Donna Monkelien made her final arrangements, she remembered the park she loved so much over the years. The result was an astonishing gift.

The fact that Donna Monkelien left so much for the park she loved says much about her character. It also reminds the rest of us that Oleson Park is indeed a special place.

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