Large Crowd Aids Faribault Chamber Dedication of Larson Memorial
The street in front of the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce building was filled with vehicles for a dedication ceremony Thursday evening.
Community Marketing Director Nort Johnson was emcee for the event and set the tone nicely with an introduction of the goal of artwork that was part of the dedication.
Johnson called the event, "A celebration about love and about hope." He told people to make sure they, "share a lot of smiles and laugh if you can as we remember our good pal Barb." It was not an easy task.
Chamber executive Barb Larson was killed by her ex-husband in December while working at the Chamber offices. There were tears and smiles as people remembered the friendly endearing woman that was Barb.
Johnson thanked the many contributors toward the new front entrance to the Chamber including Mayo Health for establishing a scholarship fund to Faribault Futures in Barb's name - Star Trophy for the plaque in front of a Mosaic art piece on the outside wall of the Chamber building, Southern Minnesota Woodcraft for the new front desk.
Mosaic artist Caron Bell told those in attendance, "there is so much love here."
Bell went on to say when designing the Mosaic Mural she wanted to "choose something that would help people by decorating that hole that we know is still there when we have a loss. That we know is there when we have some hard times. So we decorate it with things that are beautiful and that's what remains, is the love that's there. The community and the family to share,"
Bell noted the Mosaic contained tile from all over the world including Italy, Portugal, California and the Twin Cities area. I couldn't help but think how Barb would enjoy the piece for that reason alone. The former stewardess loved to travel and had been looking forward to going on another cruise before she was taken from all of us in the community.
Barb's sister Laurie Johnson was joined by two other sisters in thanking Bell for "capturing Barb's spirit so beautifully."
Johnson added, "Barb loved Faribault. She loved this community and she loved her Chamber family and they were family to her."
Johnson fought back tears as she said, "I know this (art) piece means as much to all of them and all of you as it does to us and Barb would be absolutely humbled at the outpouring of love. This is going to brighten this wall just the way that she brightened every room that she ever went into."
Johnson continued by thanking Chamber President Kymn Anderson saying "Your love for Barb filled this project and made sure it was completed."
Anderson wiped away tears as she took the microphone saying she thought she was "ready for this, but I'm not."
Kymn wanted to echo the gratitude expressed by others of the many donations not just monetarily but emotionally given to the Chamber staff in their grief.
"Everyone in the community over the last months has been so kind and generous to us so thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
Anderson went on to say "We all are remembering Barb all the time, in so many ways. We all remember the sad part but today we want to remember how she changed our lives in a positive, positive way."
"We remember the qualities that made her so irresistible to us, right? I mean everybody loved Barb. Just about everybody who knew her thought they were really her very own, one and only best friend and they were because that's the way she treated people. So whether we called her friend or sister or mom or aunt we knew that we were loved by her."
Anderson noted, "People were drawn to her because of those qualities and now we've immortalized those qualities on the Mosaic and we've got a beautiful word art picture by the front desk and my message today is we were changed by Barb's light, by her spirit, by her joy, by her humor, by her daring and caring and we can still be inspired by her spirit. It's here. It's with us and if we live the way she lived we keep her alive."
Judy Saye-Willis also contributed some Fabric artwork inside the building.
Kymn and Laurie's words were quite possibly the most beautiful tributes I've ever heard given about another human being.
We certainly do miss Barb for all the reasons given so eloquently by her sister and friend and work colleague.
It's very hard to turn a senseless, gruesome event into a positive, but the Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce and greater Faribault community accomplished the feat about as well as you can with the art works inside and outside the building and the inspirational dedication.