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The memorial is a large letter “D” which represents De Smet and the dedication Wolkow had for the city. The letter sits near a flagpole, also a part of the memorial. Another flagpole and plaque will be erected at city hall.
It was frequently a tear-filled dedication as those who spoke recalled the quiet determination Wolkow exhibited as she helped guide the city during her 24 years as finance officer.
Wolkow was hired as assistant finance officer in 1988 and became finance officer two years later when Hazelle Sckerl retired. Wolkow retired in 2014. She died Dec. 9, 2017, after a long battle with cancer.
Marilyn Skyberg, a member of the committee who promoted the memorial, said that many have a special place in their heart for Wolkow.
“Many things happened in this community because of her,” she said.
Former Mayor Roger Knock recalled how instrumental Wolkow was in keeping the hospital open in the early ‘90s. The emergency room closed for a short time and total closure was a possibility.
With Wolkow’s guidance, the city-owned facility found a way to survive, first through attachment to Huron Regional Medical Center and later with Avera Queen of Peace in Mitchell.
Knock said this memorial couldn’t be more meaningful for anyone in the community.
Mayor Gary Wolkow said she was the “heart and soul” of De Smet. He recalled her work on such things as the Washington Park bathrooms, the Third Street renewal project and the De Smet Event and Wellness Center.
Skyberg noted how Wolkow worked with others on these many projects, but never showed any public bias. But that didn’t mean she was without opinion about them.
Her husband, Delmer, said he got to know her biases at home. She, however, never wanted credit for whatever effort she put into her job, saying instead that the important thing was that the project gets completed.
He said she was camera-shy, always preferring to stay in the background. But sometimes the spotlight fell on her alone, as it did in 2002 when she was the first finance officer to receive the finance officer of the year award from the South Dakota Municipal League.
Delmer said Eileen didn’t think she would be remembered after she retired.
“She wasn’t wrong about many things,” Delmer said. “But she was wrong about this.”
Posted on 10-23-2019
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