Vitality

Today, and Forever

After a group of passionate and engaged citizens rallied together to help restore the Japanese Garden nearly 30 years ago, they turned to the Community Foundation for help in creating an endowment to assist with annual costs related to maintaining and caring for this special area.

This is a story about how one endowment assists our community in providing a peaceful place to enjoy nature’s beauty and tranquility, today and forever.

Members of the Shoto Teien Japanese Garden Committee
Members of the Shoto Teien Japanese Garden Committee, from left to right, Lynne Byrne, Linda Pashby, Marianne Larsen and Mary Ellen Connelly, joined Ben Chu, horticulture supervisor for the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden, at the Japanese Garden at Terrace Park last summer.

Since the 1930s, the Japanese Garden at Terrace Park has been the backdrop for countless special memories. From senior portraits to marriage proposals, weddings and family reunions, generations of families have selected the Garden for memorable moments mostly because of its unique features, such as quartzite stone pagodas and lanterns, shaded benches, thoughtful landscaping, a waterfall and stone sculptures.

While thousands of people enjoy the Japanese Garden each year, it’s hard to know how many know of the area’s storied history, including how a small group of passionate citizens called the Shoto Teien Japanese Garden Committee worked to rescue that portion of Terrace Park from disrepair in the late 1980s, reintroduced it the community in the early 1990s and, in partnership with the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, continue to care and advocate for the Garden even today.

Different Skills, All Working Together

In the mid-1980s, an Argus Leader story outlined how years of vandalism had caused the Japanese Garden to fall into disrepair. The story featured an interview with Sioux Falls resident Jim Bailey, who was hoping to spur interest in restoring the Garden.

Mary Ellen Connelly, a local master gardener, read that Argus Leader article with interest. She’d always felt that public gardens added to the vitality of a community – offering a place for meditation, inspiration, tranquility and, perhaps most importantly, for one to find connections at the intersection of art and nature. She reached out to Bailey to learn more about his ideas.

Across town, Rich Garry, a financial planner, read that same Argus Leader story. He, too, was interested in restoring the Garden, so he also contacted Jim Bailey.

Soon, a group of 18-20 area residents joined together to form what eventually became known as the Shoto Teien Japanese Garden Committee. Working to match funding offered through the City’s Capital Improvement Program, over the next few years each committee member volunteered their time, talents and treasures to help raise the money necessary to restore the area. The restored Japanese Garden was formally dedicated in 1991.

the Japanese Garden at Terrace Park
The Japanese Garden at Terrace Park. (Submitted photo.)

Planning for the Future

After the restoration project was complete, members of the Shoto Teien Japanese Garden Committee met to decide what to do next. Pam Jansa was the committee’s treasurer at the time. She urged the committee to consider establishing an endowment at the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation to help preserve the Garden for future generations.

Garry agreed. “We knew we wanted to get the money someplace where one, it was safe – professionally watched over and managed,” he said. “Two, we knew that even though we’d just completed the Garden, there would be ongoing work and maintenance that would need to be done.”

Under the thoughtful leadership of Committee President Dick Dempster, the Shoto Teien Japanese Garden Committee had also been in communication with Ben Chu, the horticulture supervisor for the renowned Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden. After touring the restored Garden, Chu agreed to visit Sioux Falls on an annual basis to help prune and maintain the Garden’s trees and shrubs. Chu’s yearly visit, along with excellent care and maintenance provided by the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department, helps to maintain the Garden’s beauty today.

Ben Chu
Ben Chu, horticulture supervisor for the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden, tends to a tree in the Japanese Garden at Terrace Park. (Submitted photo.)

“So we made the decision to open an endowment at the Community Foundation. Because of the interest earned through the Foundation, we’ve been able to pay for Ben to come to Sioux Falls for the last 28 years without dipping into the principal,” Garry said. “Without having the Foundation taking care of the money professionally, we’d never have been able to have Ben come every year. We’re so lucky that we have the Community Foundation here that people can use – for their charitable wishes, or to do like we did – ensuring (the money) will always be available to help with the Garden.”

Today, the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation is the trusted steward of more than $179 million in assets. Of that, $144 million are endowed.

“An endowment is a fund that is invested to provide returns that replenish the dollars distributed to charity each year. This ensures endowment funds are forever funds,” said Andy Patterson, president of the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation. “Endowments offer the comfort in knowing that even after you’re gone, the Foundation will ensure that your charitable wishes are carried out.”

Reflecting on the Shoto Teien Japanese Garden Committee, Patterson said this group’s story illustrates the power of endowments and why they are so important today.

“This endowment not only preserves what this group built, it also ensures that the Japanese Garden will continued to be cared for, making it a place future generations can continue to experience and enjoy,” he said.