See more of the story

Elizabeth Boyer and her brother will play forever in Theodore Wirth Park.

Boyer, who died May 20 at age 94, loved sledding and playing in the parks while growing up in the Linden Hills neighborhood near Lake Harriet. She donated her 1920s vintage sled and baseball bat, which were bronzed and are now part of statues of children erected in June 2004 in front of the chalet in Wirth Park, said her neighbor Joan Berthiaume.

The statues were sponsored by the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society, which was co-founded by Berthiaume and Ted Wirth, grandson of the Minneapolis park system's main architect. The statues depict Theodore Wirth and five children, in 1930s-era garb. Two statues represent Boyer, sporting a glove and baseball, and her big brother, Dick, gripping a bat.

"Ted memorialized her in the statue he designed," Berthiaume said. "So she will be around playing in the parks forever with her brother."

Vivian Mason, a Minneapolis parks commissioner in June 2004, recalled Boyer and Ted Wirth, since deceased, attending the dedication ceremony for the Theodore Wirth Interpretive Statue Garden. Boyer's donations were acknowledged and, because it happened to be her 89th birthday, the group "sang 'Happy Birthday' to her," Mason said. "The dedication was a wonderful event," she said.

Before the statues were designed, Berthiaume said, she took Ted Wirth to Betty Boyer's home to hear her stories of enjoying the parks when his grandfather was parks superintendent. Boyer had lived in the same home since 1920. When Wirth said he needed props for the planned statues of children, Boyer recalled that she still had her sled and her brother's baseball bat in the attic.

Boyer graduated from the University of Minnesota with a dietetics degree and eventually became head dietician at the former Minneapolis General Hospital. She lived with her cat and attended Lake Harriet Methodist Church. She volunteered at the Walker Health Care Center and was a charter member of the Parks Legacy Society, Berthiaume said.

Boyer lived with her parents until they died. Her brother moved to Texas, where he died. She explained why she never married in a 1999 interview with the Linden Hills History Study Group: "I just don't think I had 'come hither' look about me," she said.

"She was a very classy lady," said Sheree Cooney, her backyard neighbor for 25 years. "Every time her peonies blossomed, she'd bring me a big bouquet."

Cooney said her three children created plenty of backyard noise growing up, but Boyer never had a bad word and sent them all birthday cards with a cash gift. Boyer regularly walked around the neighborhood and to Thomas Beach on Lake Calhoun to swim in the warm months until she suffered a stroke in 1999, Berthiaume said.

After that, she and Cooney began checking on Boyer daily, sometimes bringing meals. Boyer was able to drive around the parks into her 90s.

Boyer, who died of natural causes in Minneapolis, requested no memorial service. Berthiaume said Boyer asked that she be cremated and that her ashes spread in Lakewood Cemetery along the Lake Calhoun side.

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658