Back in 1978 I had just finished my freshman year of high school and was looking for my first "real" job. Working at Crazy Horse Memorial sounded interesting at the least and I was excited when Ruth Ziolkowski told me I had the job.
For the next seven years I painted and roofed buildings, hauled rocks in wheelbarrows, stacked bales of hay, sold tickets and greeted visitors, sold snacks, directed cars in the parking lot, helped build a restaurant and a museum wing, shoveled snow, washed the Ziolkowski family dishes and mowed the lawn. Through it all "Mrs. Z" was a second mother figure to me. Like any mother she had a disciplinarian side to her, but how could she not raising 10 children and supervising around three times that many each summer season?
My experiences at Crazy Horse got me started in the tourism industry, introduced me to my wife and were some of the most fun I ever had.
It wasn't unexpected, but the news of Ruth's passing is a sad time for me as it will be for the Ziolkowskis, the current and former Crazy Horse staff, and the South Dakota tourism industry. Rest in peace Mrs. Z.