When Everett High biology teacher Andy Sudkamp died in 2015, a boulder on the school’s campus was colorfully painted in his honor. There’s now an effort to permanently commemorate his life and love of nature with a stone sculpture at Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens.
Sudkamp, who lived in north Everett with his wife, Mary Ann, was a gardener and outdoorsman known for asking students “Isn’t nature wonderful?” He was 55 when he died, Aug. 4, 2015, during a hiking trip to the Grand Canyon, one of nature’s most sublime wonders.
“Everyone wants to remember him. When it’s that great a guy, it’s hard to find the right wonderful thing to do for him,” said Renee Greenleaf, a spokeswoman and longtime board member with the Evergreen Arboretum & Gardens Society.
The nonprofit seeks donations for a stone sculpture to be installed in the arboretum’s south area, capturing Sudkamp’s spirit and love of the natural world. A sculptor hasn’t been chosen. The fund-raising goal is $10,000 or more. With about $2,000 already raised, the effort recently had a boost. An anonymous donor pledged to match up to $1,000 in new gifts, Greenleaf said.
More than a showcase for Northwest plants, the arboretum in Everett’s American Legion Memorial Park is an outdoor sculpture museum.
The sculpture garden entrance welcomes visitors with columns made by George Little and David Lewis. Beyond the entryway, with its metal arbor created by Rex Lukinich, is a collection of nearly a dozen pieces. Among them are “Fibonacci,” a metal water feature by Pam Hom; “Clarity,” Merilee Moore’s steel and glass piece that rises skyward; and “Siblings,” a large work by Tulalip master carver and sculptor James Madison.
Sudkamp was a member of the arboretum society. His yard was featured in the group’s annual Gardens of Merit tour. The Sudkamps transformed the landscape around their 1923 bungalow into what a 2008 Herald article described as “a yard farm.”
Along with 10 kinds of fruit, they grew summer veggies and root vegetables, a year-round bounty, all in a 70- by 40-foot back yard. Active with the arboretum group, “he helped and volunteered with work parties,” Greenleaf said.
Carol Thomas, the city of Everett’s cultural arts manager, is helping the group with the call for artists. She met with the arboretum society’s board this week to go over submissions already received from sculptors, and to consider whether more were needed.
Thomas said her role is not to choose the piece but to offer technical assistance. She goes to the arboretum often. “I take care of the sculptures out there,” said Thomas.
“Not only is it a gem, it is a tourist destination,” she said.
“The arboretum volunteers — there’s also a Master Gardener garden there — they put so much into it. They volunteer time, donate money, hold an incredible plant sale every spring, and have a booth at Sorticulture,” Thomas said. “There’s so much talent and passion to create a beautiful space.”
The Evergreen Arboretum & Gardens Society has more than 250 members, Greenleaf said. “You don’t have to be a garden champion. It’s for everybody,” she said. Membership is $25 per year, or $40 for a family. “We have free classes all year, an annual dinner and family fun events,” she said.
Sudkamp had wanted a basalt piece as an addition to the arboretum, Thomas said. The group may be open to other types of stone, she said.
“I think it will be a stone sculpture, no matter what,” Thomas said. “His passion was hiking in the mountains.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Evergreen Arboretum & Gardens Society seeks donations for a stone sculpture to be installed in memory of Andy Sudkamp. An Everett High biology teacher, Sudkamp died during a 2015 hiking trip at the Grand Canyon. The nonprofit hopes to install the sculpture in a south garden at the arboretum in Everett’s American Legion Memorial Park, 145 Alverson Blvd.
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