The Ottumwa Courier

July 1, 2013

Fara Cremer's final gift

Courier staff writer

---- — AGENCY — Fara Cremer left some things behind when she died this spring: flagpoles around Agency, nieces and nephews who care about the community and, in her memorial, more than a thousand dollars to improve the memorial to her county's namesake, Chief Wapello.

"She gave to her community," said nephew Michael Cremer of Ottumwa. "That's the kind of person she was."

On Monday, he was at the gravesite of Chief Wapello, who is buried next to the man the chief once called "my white father," Gen. Joseph Street. Street was the administrator of the Indian agency in the area.

"My Aunt Fara taught us all about the importance of volunteering," said Theresa Dovico of Agency. "As children, we would all walk to Chief Wapello's grave. She would always come down and plant trees, check on the upkeep."

Jerry Bonser of the Chief Wapello Memorial Park Association said the money was going to be used to install a park bench and a flagpole.

"She put three or four flagpoles up in Agency — by herself," Bonser said. "Paid for them and everything."

Bonser helped find a spot for the flagpole, moving it slightly from a location determined earlier. Moving it a foot or two would put the tall pole in direct site of passengers on the Amtrak train that goes by the historical site.

"So they know there's something here," he said.

According to the history compiled by the park association, railroad companies were some of the first donors to support "Chief Wapello's Memorial Park." The tracks are easily visible from the park. Other visitors will be able to find the site more easily, too. Another board member told the Courier the city of Agency will be installing a new Chief Wapello sign near the Highway 163 off-ramp where it meets Agency-Hedrick Road.

Cremer and Agency resident Shane Glenn kept digging while Bonser grabbed a couple bags of cement. Dovico, once she helped find the location for the pole, went through the park pruning trees — some of which had been planted by Aunt Fara.

"She was very much about keeping Agency alive," Dovico said.

— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark.