Sioux Falls, SD
Ruth Ziolkowski is being remembered across South Dakota for the life she lived and the work she accomplished at the Crazy Horse Memorial.
The 87-year-old died Wednesday night with her family by her side after battling terminal cancer.
Ziolkowski has been directing operations at the Crazy Horse Memorial for more than 30 years. She says the memorial is proof that dreams come true.
"The goal is to carve the mountain. It has been wonderful to see the progress, especially the last few years up there with all the modern technology and the great crew we have working," Ziolkowski said in an April 8, 2014 phone interview with KELOLAND News.
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Ziolkowski's husband, Korczak, started that work in 1947 when he set out to honor Native American culture by carving the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills. Korczak died in 1982. Since then blast after blast along with the monument's operations, had been directed by Ruth.
"You know I don't have a job I have a way of life. I've had it ever since I got here when I was 20 years of age and I'm almost 88 now so I have been blessed because I love every minute of what I have done and what I do," Ziolkowski said in April.
Ziolkowski died just one month shy of her 88th birthday. A three-member executive team is now in place to carry on the work she and Korczak started. But Ruth said in April that the progress that has been made in their lifetime is the legacy they wanted to pass on.
"Your life is your own. You make it what it is and you can do exactly what you want to do. Dreams really do come true," Ziolkowski said.
Ruth and Korczak were married on Thanksgiving Day in 1950. They had ten children; many of whom have made the Crazy Horse Memorial their life's work as well.
A date and time for Ziolkowski's funeral has not been set but a memorial fund has been established in her name at the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.