New playground equipment honors parents, recalls memories
About 44 years ago, Berneil Rupp Mueller ’62 was a young mother finishing up her degree at Bethel and being the parent to two small daughters while her husband, Ted ’58, continued teaching in Hutchinson.
“I had an apartment on campus,” Berneil remembers, “and two little girls, ages 2 and 4.” She would take the girls to play on the playground equipment in the small “valley” on the west side of the campus where Kidron Kottage also sits.
“My younger daughter, who fell off her chair at every meal, would climb to the top of the slide and dance and prance around,” Berneil says. Those were the days when there was no protective “cage” at the top of a slide. “I’ve been worrying about that slide for 44 years.”
This fall, Berneil and her family got the chance to finally do something about that. Using memorial gifts for her mother, Linda Balzer Rupp ’32, who died in December 2004, and additional gifts from the family, Berneil had some of the old equipment removed and new play structures, including a spiral slide, installed. The area also honors Berneil’s father, Weldon “Bun” Rupp. The Rupps lived in the Moundridge area for many years. Bun Rupp died in 1986.
Linda and Bun Rupp were great supporters of Bethel athletics. The circular grassy area in front of the library contains two bronze plaques honoring them for their dedication to and enthusiasm for sports at Bethel.
Another reason Berneil was interested in using the site for a memorial is because, she says, “the area is dear to me. The fireplace in Kidron Kottage was given in memory of my brother Bill, who died of tetanus in 1949 at age 10.
“We’ve been noticing more and more, since we came back to live in North Newton [from Grinnell, Iowa, in 1999], what a lovely spot that is, with the little valley,” Berneil continues. “This fall, we’ve had two family gatherings there. We had an informal inauguration for the playground equipment in October with two great-nieces, then 3, and a great-nephew, 10. We enjoyed that so much that our family had a Thanksgiving gathering there a few weeks later.
“We ate and sat around at Kidron Kottage, warmed by the fireplace, without the distraction of TV or phones, and it was so peaceful and beautiful.
“I’d like more people to discover this spot,” she concludes. “It seems to me that there’s been more activity there this fall--I’ve seen young families and even college students playing there.”