A group effort went into putting up an attractive new sign on Harrison Street, identifying the Grand Island Arboretum at Sucks Lake Park.
The back of the sign honors the late Gregg Bostelman, who founded the arboretum. About $35,000 was contributed to the arboretum fund at the Grand Island Community Foundation, covering the cost of the project after donations.
Laurie Kulus of the Community Foundation, who knew Bostelman, took a big interest in the project. GH Construction of Grand Island donated labor and paid the cost of most of the materials.
Bostelman died in 2017 at age 63, the victim of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He worked for the city of Grand Island for 40 years, beginning with 16 years as assistant groundskeeper at Jackrabbit Run Golf Course. For 24 years, he was Grand Island’s park superintendent.
He always loved it when “the kids were out playing in the parks,” said his widow, Joni.
Her friend, Kim Dinsdale, donated a tree in Gregg’s honor, which they planted. Dinsdale also helped start the Grand Island Arboretum Fund at the Community Foundation.
The back of the sign says Bostelman cared for the trees of Grand Island from 1977 to 2017. The front notes the park is part of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum network.
“It’s a great addition to our park down here,” said Barry Burrows, the current park superintendent, adding that he hopes the sign will help people realize that Grand Island has an arboretum.
In addition to labor, GH Construction donated the cost of the materials to install the footings underneath the sign, the block wall on which the sign is mounted and all of the stone that wraps around it.
“We donated everything except for the actual signs that were mounted,” said Dustin Hasselmann, owner of GH Construction.
Hasselmann did not know Bostelman, but he enjoyed hearing stories from people and admired his involvement in the planting of all the trees “and how much care he took in it,” he said.
“I got to know a little bit about him just with speaking with people as the sign was being constructed and designed,” Hasselmann said.
He said he liked the plans that organizers had come up with and felt the sign was “a good memorial for Gregg.”
“I was happy to do it,” Hasselmann said.
The sign was erected by Love Signs.
The group tried to make the sign low-maintenance and as resistant to vandals as possible, Joni Bostelman said.
The project is not done. Burrows plans to add flowers and landscape the area.
More trees and a walkway may be added in the future, Joni Bostelman said.
The Grand Island Arboretum Fund, established in 2018, will remain active. Donations are always welcome, Kulus said.
Bostelman wanted the whole city to take ownership of the arboretum, which spreads all throughout Sucks Lake Park, Burrows said.
Gregg and Joni Bostelman had two sons, Blake and Lucas.
Lucas, 33, says his father was determined, persistent and hard-working.
“If he wanted something done, it got done,” said Lucas, who lives in Grand Island.
Blake, 38, says his father was modest. He’d probably be a little embarrassed by the sign, “but would really appreciate” it, said Blake, who lives in Doniphan with his wife, Claire.
“Gregg had a huge passion for what he did,” said Burrows, who was hired by Bostelman in 1998.
He had a lot of respect for Bostelman, he said.
“He was basically self-driven,” Burrows said.
Bostelman had great attention to detail, he said. The two of them tried to make sure things were better than they had, and do the best they could “with the amount of money that we had.”
“He was a good guy that had to go too soon,” Burrows said.