Last week, West Bend dedicated a portion of our prairie to John “Rocky” Dedrick, former president, CEO, and chairman of the board.
Rocky served as president of West Bend from 1982 to 2000 and was president when ground for the Woodland Building was broken in 1990. He was instrumental in restoring, what for many years, had been farmland to the natural prairie we enjoy today. Rocky got the idea to use natural landscaping from his brother Dan, a landscape architect while walking the property with him in about 1986. “We saw the land had been misused, that the only way they were ever able to grow corn was to pour chemicals and fertilizers into the soil. The topsoil was virtually gone. That’s when we decided to restore it.” He didn’t want West Bend to use a lot of water, herbicides, and fertilizers on the grounds because it was bad for the environment and expensive. In the 70s and 80s, manicured lawns at corporate buildings were “in” so his vision of restoring the land to its natural state was very forward-thinking.
He had a vision of what the property should/could look like and once the decision was made, Rocky made it his mission to learn more about restoring the land to its natural state. Rocky hired Marv, our former landscape supervisor, to execute his vision. The land was restored to its natural state by planting 60 acres with 25 varieties of native grasses, wildflowers, and trees. A pond was added, along with 8,000 trees and three miles of walking trails. It took five-seven years before the full results of all the plantings were evident. Today, our property is a haven for wildlife like deer, fox, pheasant, turkey, geese, and duck.
Two other portions of the prairie are dedicated to former presidents. The Barber Prairie commemorates Robert Barber who served as president from 1961 to 1976. The Fuchs Prairie honors Harold Fuchs, West Bend president from 1976 to 1982. Both are located on the west side of the building.