FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 16, 2014 —
By Steve Marschke
It’s often easier to destroy than it is to create.
The city arborist and the local historical society combined last year to create a memorial for Bill Wingfield, a local citizen-naturalist. Recently, though, unknown vandals smashed that memorial at Circle Park. The park, as round as its name implies, is located along Alabama Avenue at Circle Street.
“We didn’t realize how many jerks have time on their hands to go out and cause problems,” said Wingfield’s widow, Jeri Hughes Wingfield. “You can’t get mad at stuff like that. You can get sad, though.”
Bill Wingfield died last year. He was a retired virologist for the state department of fish and wildlife, active in his own local habitat as well as in the West Sacramento Historical Society. He helped create the society’s annual plant sale as a fundraiser, and he built frog ponds at home on the Wingfields’ property.
“We have one pond in the front and two in the back garden,” reported Jeri. “The frog chorus just sings – they are so amazing. He was such a naturalist. He took walking tours, and always carried his scientific equipment with him on bicycle.”
Several years ago, a regional plan to run a major sewer line through West Sacramento seemed to spell the end of a number of old oak trees behind the Wingfields’ Westmore Oaks neighborhood. The trees provided afternoon shade, as well as beauty.
“Their idea was to have this area behind my house as a chain-linked, fenced corridor,” she said. “We need those trees for the western sun, and they were going to shave everything off and put in this chain-link fence.”
The Wingfields were at the center of neighborhood protests and the negotiations with the city and the regional sewage district.
“We saved them,” she said. “They moved the pipeline over closer to the opposite side of the right-of-way. I think we saved every shade tree.”
After Bill Wingfield died last year, the history society installed what its president, Thom Lewis, called “our artful tribute to Bill.” It included a plaque, as well as a little gardening project done by Dena Kirtley, the City of West Sacramento’s arborist.
“She found some acorns in the area,” said Jeri Wingfield of Dena Kirtley. The arborist prepped the acorns with time in her home freezer, then took them out and planted them, hoping at least one would survive the squirrels and other perils and become an oak tree to grow in Bill’s memory.
“I was so thrilled with that,” Jeri Wingfield commented – although it appears none of the acorns have yet to take.
Meanwhile, a few weeks back, somebody gave the Bill Wingfield memorial plaque a thrashing. The broken pieces have been removed, but the story may not be over.
“Dena is working on other ideas,” said Jeri Wingfield.
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