A garden honoring Mindy Morgenstern is still blooming seven years after she was murdered in her off-campus apartment in Valley City.
Morgenstern was a 22-year-old Valley City State University senior when she was strangled and stabbed to death by then-Barnes County jailer Moe Gibbs Sept. 13, 2006.
To honor Morgenstern, several Valley City people created a memorial garden in the spring of 2007. Dan Preston was one of the individuals who helped establish the foundation of the garden with his gifts and labor.
Other individuals who donated their time and talents in creating the garden were Bonnie Ranum, Kathy Jacobson, Joyce Braunagel and her daughters, and Carol Knutson. Marsha Moen helps clean up the garden each spring and Dean Peterson built and donated the bench still at the garden.
Sharon McCarriar, an instructor at VCSU, learned about the garden when it was first established through an advertisement in the Times-Record, seeking community members to help maintain the area. She continues to mow the grass and weed the garden weekly. McCarriar was one of Morgenstern's instructors.
"Mindy’s faith is my fondest memory," she said, adding that she and the others helped build and keep Mindy’s Garden as a reminder of Mindy’s love of life while she worked and went to college in Valley City.
Morgenstern enrolled at Valley City State University from New Salem, N.D. in 2002.
"Playing basketball and running track were two of her many talents." McCarriar said. "Later, Mindy worked with many children as she became a lifeguard and completed her methods teaching as a health and physical education major. Teaching was Mindy’s career of choice."
"Many Valley City residents also enjoyed Mindy’s smiling face during the time she worked at Roby’s Restaurant," she added.
McCarriar said she's heard many positive comments from people who have visited the garden. She also appreciates the City of Valley City for allowing the space to be there and the Valley City Police Department for patrolling the area.
The newest addition to Mindy’s Garden may be one of the Little Free Library’s sponsored by the Valley City Cadet Girl Scouts No. 30800 who built three libraries for their Silver Award project. One Little Free Library can be found at Chautauqua Park.
The garden also has a memory book and pens available to anyone to look in and write about Mindy. A previous memory book received rain water damange, but McCarriar managed to save it and sent it to Morgenstern's mom.
"Another reason we do this is for her mom and dad — for them to know that we're still remembering Mindy," McCarriar said. "Her mom really appreciates the people of Valley City allowing us to have the garden there," she said.
The garden creators thank "all those people who have kept Mindy's memory alive by keeping the garden alive."
Read this story in Wednesday's Times-Record.