In spite of the almost 100-degree heat wave at the Seward Courthouse Square, the new William Henry Seward Statue and Plaza memorial, commissioned by the family of Suzanne Geis Kolterman, a lifelong resident of Seward County, was officially dedicated June 29.
This memorial also commemorates the 150th anniversary of the City of Seward, Seward County and the State of Nebraska, celebrated in 2017 when the statue was originally announced, honoring the pioneers of Seward, Seward County and Nebraska. Two bronze plaques outline the history of the statue and William Henry Seward.
The bronze statue was created in New York by brother and sister David and Judith Rubin. A similar statue of William Seward was commissioned to commemorate the Treaty of Cession, securing the Russian Territories for the United States and is located in Juneau, Alaska.
That statue stopped in Seward on the way to Juneau and sparked the interest of the community to have one placed in Seward. A similar statue of Seward was commissioned by Sen. Mark Kolterman to honor the memory of his wife Suzanne.
The Seward Plaza evolved as an extension of a community gathering place in conjunction with the Seward Downtown revitalization and beautification program.
The event was emceed by Clark Kolterman, president of the Seward Arts Council, which served as the fiscal agent for the project funding. Welcomes were presented by Seward Mayor Josh Eickmeier, who reviewed the history and background of William H. Seward, and by Seward County Commissioner Chairman John Culver, who also officially welcomed the group to the historic Seward County Square.
Kolterman introduced Sen. Mark Kolterman, who spoke on the timeline of the Seward statue project, sharing a perspective of how the statue came to be in Seward.
Representing the direct descendents of William Seward at the celebration were Nancy Seward of Fairmont and her daughter.
The major corporate financial sponsors for the plaza were recognized and thanked for their contributions to the plaza project. They are Hartmann Construction, Jones Bank, Hughes Brothers and TransCanada Keystone Pipeline.
The major civic group financial/volunteer sponsors for the plaza were also recognized and thanked for their contributions to the plaza project. They are the GFWC Seward Woman’s Club, Seward Rotary Club, Seward Kiwanis Club and Seward Arts Council.
Project leadership certificates of appreciation were presented to Seward’s Jon and Bonnie Kruse, who worked side by side with Sen. Kolterman to bring the statue to Seward, along with a special leadership award of appreciation presented to Phil Bangert, who serves at the treasurer of the Seward Arts Council. Bangert, with Jones Bank, served as the fiscal agent for the funded project, coordinating the financials of the project through the Seward Arts Council’s non-profit status.
Jeanne Wiemer with the Seward Arts Council presented certificates of appreciation to the family of Suzanne Geis Kolterman – Sen. Mark Kolterman, his daughters Jessica Kolterman and Jennifer Stevens, and Adeline Geis, Suzanne’s mother, and her family. The Suzanne Geis Kolterman family donated the funds to commission the statue as a memorial to honor Suzanne as a tribute to the pioneers of Seward, Seward County and Nebraska.
Sen. Kolterman dedicated the William Henry Seward statue and Seward Plaza and opened the three-path walkway with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The Firehouse Five Plus played before and after.