NOKAY LAKE TOWNSHIP - Eugene Segler's memory is alive and well at his home off Grave Lake Road in Nokay Lake Township.
The memories lie in Segler's vegetable garden that he created in 1975. The garden, which includes apple trees, sweet corn, pumpkin, squash, beets, carrots and zucchini, to name a few, brought joy to Segler, his wife, June, and their neighbors for many years.
Eugene Segler, 87, was killed Dec. 22 when he was hit by a vehicle while crossing Crow Wing County Road 8 after getting the mail. Since his death, the garden was christened "Gene's Legacy Garden" by the neighbors.
Chuck Burford recently picked zucchinis in a vegetable garden owned by June and the late Eugene Segler of Nokay Lake Township. Since Eugene Segler's death, the neighbors took it upon themselves to keep Selger's garden going. They call it "Gene's Legacy Garden." Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger » Purchase reprints of this photo.
The neighbors, Marti and Todd Sauer and their four children; Joyce and Cy Strang; Doreen and Nate Lundgren; and Chuck and Lil Burford, wanted to help June Segler, 83, with the third-of-an-acre garden as they knew it would be too much for her.
"Gene was the gardener," June Segler said. "I didn't do much in the garden. I did the canning and the freezing. Gene's life was fishing and gardening.
"He liked to share the gardening produce with friends and neighbors. Whenever someone would stop and talk with him in the garden they always left with whatever was being picked that day. When he had too many vegetables he'd pile them up by two posts by the road and they were there for whoever wanted to take them."
June Segler (left) held a photo recently of her and her late husband, Eugene, while standing in front of their vegetable garden in Nokay Lake Township. The garden was named "Gene's Legacy Garden" to honor her husband, who was killed in a vehicle-pedestrian accident in December. Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"It was tough," she added of his death. "It was right before Christmas. We all miss him. We would have been married for 62 years this past May.
"He was such a nice man," Marti Sauer said. "The kids would always visit with them and June would give them cookies. They're like my children's grandparents because their grandparents don't live around here.
"Gene always gave us potatoes and squash and my husband and my sons would hunt and they'd share the deer with Gene."
Sauer said that, after Eugene's death, it was difficult to drive by the garden. Then, one day when the family was driving by the garden, one of her children came up with the idea of planting vegetables in the garden "so June would have something to eat."
June Segler (left), holding a photo of her and her late husband, Eugene, joined neighbors Joyce Strang, Nate Lundgren and Chuck Burford, who help with the garden work, during a recent day in the garden. Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger » Purchase reprints of this photo.
That's all it took. The neighbors got together and decided they would each take over a portion of the garden. They would plant vegetables, maintain the garden and share the vegetables, just like Eugene had done for years. Of course, June gave her blessing.
Joyce Strang, who lives next door, said she often talked gardening with Eugene. She brings June her mail and newspaper every day and said Eugene was an honest man who would do anything for anyone at any time.
This vegetable garden owned by June and the late Eugene Segler of Nokay Lake Township was christened "Gene's Legacy Garden" by neighbors. Brainerd Dispatch/Jennifer Stockinger » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Nate Lundgren said Eugene was set in his ways, but he was always friendly to everyone. Lundgren helped Eugene in the garden and the two also went ice fishing. Lundgren said he always waited for Eugene to put his fish house out first so that he'd know where to put his house.
"I'm lost now without him," Lundgren said.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5851.
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