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Crazy Horse Memorial Leader Passes at 87

Ruth Ziolkowski spent the past 32 years carrying on the legacy of her husband Korczak, who started the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills in 1947. Ruth passed away Wednesday night at the age of 87.

Ruth and Korczak were married at the Memorial in 1950. Back in the early days she helped build the log cabin and the wooden steps to the top of the memorial.

“Mrs. Z”, as all of us who were ever fortunate enough to meet her, stayed active in the operations of the Memorial that continues progress to this day.

I worked in Rapid City for four years in the early 1990’s and was able to interview Mrs. Z on several occasions. From scheduled blasts on the mountain to special events marking anniversaries complete with speeches from the South Dakota governors at the time (George Mickelson and Walter Dale Miller both made several appearances at Crazy Horse) as did late South Dakota opera singer White Eagle, to the incredible opportunity to hike out Crazy Horse’s arm, Mrs. Z was always there with a smile, welcoming visitors to the mountain.

She loved what she did and it was always a joy to get to spend a little time with her at a place she cared about so deeply.

A celebration of Ruth’s life will be scheduled at the Memorial.A public viewing will take place Monday (May 26) in the log home she and Korczak built beginning at 10am.

On Tuesday May 27, the memorial will take place beginning at 10am at Crazy Horse. Admission fees will be waived Tuesday from 7am to 5pm.

South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has requested that flags be flown at half-staff statewide Tuesday in her honor.

A fund in her name has been established to the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.

In addition, T. Denny Sanford has pledged 10-million dollars to the Crazy Horse Fund in a ‘matching’ donation. He will match all donations made by South Dakotans to continue the memorial, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000,000.

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