MONROE — The last major project Paul Klinzing did for the Monroe Parks and Recreation Department was replacing the old Twining South shelter with a newer, larger structure.
Klinzing, who was the Park Director and City Forester in Monroe for 38 years, died March 20, 2018. Shortly after, during conversations park staff came up with an idea: Name the new shelter in honor of Klinzing and his family.
“It came up organically talking with park staff,” Matt Skibba, Monroe Parks and Recreation supervisor said. “First, we needed to get approval from Marge (Klinzing’s wife) and the family. It’s not something you just rush with.”
The wood beams at the front of the shelter will have “Klinzing Shelter” emblazoned, and a sign will be placed thanking sponsors and donors who helped fund the project.
It came up organically talking with park staff. First, we needed to get approval from Marge (Klinzing’s wife) and the family. It’s not something you just rush with.Matt Skibba, Monroe Parks and Recreation supervisor
“Matt Skibba really spearheaded it,” said Josh Trame, Paul’s son-in-law that took over as Forestry Supervisor. “Knowing Paul, he wouldn’t have wanted it, because he was humble like that. It’s very humbling for the family as well.”
Under Paul’s watch, more than 2,000 trees were planted throughout the City of Monroe. The green-and-gold playground at Lincoln Project was built in 2013 with help of members of the Green Bay Packers, and Paul’s son Kyle was working as a seasonal summer employee.
“Some of my best memories are working for him as a seasonal in the summer during college,” Kyle said. “It was really fun going to work together every day. We didn’t work side-by-side all the time, but there were a few projects we did together. We had lunch together every day, and it was really cool to spend that extra time with him.”
Skibba said Paul was a well-known forester throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest, with several other departments using Monroe’s parks as examples and inspiration.
“Those of us that worked with him are so proud and lucky,” Skibba said. “It’s would be a nice, fitting tribute to remember someone who did so much for Monroe.”
Paul met his wife, Marge, who serves as the Monroe Parks and Recreation Director, four decades ago when both were just starting out working for the city. Marge is the director of the Parks and Recreation Department, while Paul was in charge of the forestry element. The two hit it off and were married in October 1983. They had two children, Jenna and Kyle. The family has encompassed themselves with the city ever since.
“I think of my childhood and all throughout the different projects we worked on — from the Swiss Alps playground, to even being the first kid down one of the new slides at the pool,” said Jenna, who is now the principal at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Monroe. “It was one of the coolest things to be there first hand.”
Marge said that of all Monroe’s green landscapes, Twining was Paul’s favorite park.
“Fifty years ago, little did they know how beautiful Twining Park would become, with the creek and everything,” Marge said.
The shelter includes bathrooms and a concession stand, plus ample seating.
“It’s beautiful and well done,” said Marge. She said having the shelter named after her family is “very much of an honor.” She said she got choked up when she first heard the idea, and then after it was approved by the parks and recreation board May 20, just two days before what would have been Paul’s 62nd birthday. “It was emotional, it still is today.”
After Paul’s death, multiple benches have been placed in the parks in his memory, including one at Lincoln Park and another next to the new Twining South shelter. His family continues to frequent the benches and the shelter to honor and remember him. Jenna and her husband Josh, along with their children took family pictures at the shelter this past fall. Kyle and his new wife, Taylor, took both their engagement and wedding photos at Monroe parks.
“The parks meant a lot to him. It means a lot to have something like this to remember him,” Kyle said. “I will have a place to go with my wife and our future kids.”
Jenna said it’s nice to have a place to take her children, Kayden and Karley, to remember their grandfather.
“We don’t actually use the word ‘cemetery,’ instead they call it the ‘remembrance park,’” Jenna said. “When we lived in Slinger, they would love to come to Monroe and enjoyed going to all the different parks.”
Jenna said Josh was planning on being a gym teacher, but after working with Paul as a seasonal employee found he had a niche for the career. The two were dating at the time and later married.
Trame then was the Parks Public Works and Forestry Superintendent in Slinger for 11 years.
“They would talk to each other often. Their conversations when we were in Slinger were constant,” Jenna said. “Laughter and dry conversations on boring topics about things like mulch.”
When Paul died, Jenna said Josh was quick to make a decision to move back home.
“Josh spearheaded our return. He cared for me and my family, plus his parents are here too,” Jenna said.
Trame left Slinger with awards for his upkeep of the parks and different ball fields. At one point several years ago, Paul took his crew to Slinger to look at what Josh was doing.
Now that Trame took over for his father-in-law, he said he sees things differently from when he was a seasonal employee.
“Being in charge now, you definitely see it through a different lens,” Trame said.
The parks meant a lot to him. It means a lot to have something like this to remember him.Kyle Klinzing, Paul's son
Jenna joked that there are not too many husbands who like going to work with their mother-in-law every day and love what they do for a job. “But he does,” Jenna said.
Josh said the department took advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown and nice weather by completing several capital projects that were earmarked for 2020, like paving a walkway between the new shelter at Twining and the ball fields, plus a new bleacher seating area at Recreation Park.
“It all worked out really well,” Josh said.
The projects are a continuation of some of Paul’s vision for the parks, along with Josh’s vision.
“My main goal is to get our parks more ADA accessible and to make them safer for people to use,” Josh said.