Determination Park dedicated in Breitbach’s honor

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David J. Breitbach’s family—daughter Elizabeth, wife Vickie, daughter Christine and sons Taylor, Frank and David—stand near the cigar tree and bench that were placed in Determination Park in his honor. A plaque will also be placed in the shelter house at the park, which Breitbach was instrumental in establishing. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

McGregor Park Board President Maria Brummel shows the drawing that inspired Breitbach to name the park "Determination Park."

McGregor City Administrator Lynette Sander, park board president Maria Brummel and councilwoman Rogeta Halvorson unveil the plaque that will go up in the Determination Park shelter.

Neighbors Adam and Ashley Simon place a stone at the foot of the cigar tree recently planted in Determination Park in Breitbach’s honor.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Family members, colleagues, neighbors and community members all came together Saturday afternoon to dedicate McGregor’s Determination Park in honor of David J. Breitbach, a long-time resident and park board volunteer who passed away unexpectedly last summer.

Breitbach was the driving force behind the establishment of Determination Park, which is located in the Ridgewood West Subdivision, and wrote two successful Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation grants that funded the park shelter and play structure.

“He also organized all the volunteers and worked with them to erect the play structure on a very muddy, memorable day full of hard work and camaraderie,” recalled McGregor Park Board President Maria Brummel at the dedication ceremony. “In his own limited spare time, he even did finishing work on the shelter.”

Two of Breitbach’s sons, Taylor and Frank, completed Eagle Scout projects that enhanced the park, efforts their father aided.

“He was a man of great vision, integrity, good judgment and service to his community,” Brummel remarked.

“It is his community involvement that has brought us together today to honor Dave’s commitment to a project that transformed a vacant piece of land into a neighborhood park available for all to use,” added city administrator Lynette Sander.

Brummel said Breitbach was not only the driving force behind the park, but also the park’s name, which was derived from a bald eagle drawing titled “Determination,” created by local artist Ed Lawrence following Sept. 11.

“I see it as representing the collective determination of the Americans as a people to overcome hardships and adversity. I also see the name of this park as a culmination of Dave’s personal determination,” Brummel said. “He wanted to see a place for children to play. He wanted a place for friends and family to get together and maybe play a game of volleyball and gather in the shelter for a meal, just like we’re doing today.” 

To honor Breitbach’s commitment, city representatives unveiled a plaque that will be placed in the shelter. 

Breitbach’s fellow Eagle Drive neighbors planted a catalpa tree, or cigar tree, near the park sand box. During Saturday’s ceremony, Ashley and Adam Simon placed a stone beneath it, reading “David J. Breitbach: our neighbor, our friend.” A stone bench was also placed nearby, allowing visitors to sit and reflect. Family members were given St. David necklaces to remind them their father and husband is always near.

Ashley Simon, who spoke at the dedication, said Breitbach’s absence left neighbors feeling like his kindness and commitment couldn’t end with his death.

“Like all neighbors touched by one another, we wanted to continue that care Mr. Breitbach provided to so many,” she shared.

Breitbach’s family members—wife Vickie and children David, Frank, Taylor, Elizabeth and Christine—appreciated the kind words and gestures expressed by many during the event. Vickie said her husband would have shied away from the attention.

“With this park, or anything he’s ever done, he’s not one for accolades,” she said. “He couldn’t have done it without everybody in this neighborhood, the surrounding area and the park board. He loved this area and he loved these people, and his other home was the hospital. He’s missed.”

Elizabeth said she hoped all in attendance would take something from her father’s life: not to take a minute for granted.

“Hug your kids and grandkids just a little bit tighter. Watch that sunrise or sunset for just a minute longer,” she reflected. “At the end of the day, just appreciate everyone around you and everything around you and all the years that life has to give.” 

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