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Some legacies are of brick and mortar,some fund scholarships, and some create and sustain beauty for all to enjoy. William and Virginia Clemens’ legacy in Central Minnesota is broad, ranging from a library at the College of St. Benedict, a lectureship at Saint John’s University, and for the benefit of all in our communities, the Clemens Gardens. In 1990, William and Virginia donated the land, roses and the first Robinson Iron fountain to create what is now known as the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden.
Since that beginning, the Clemens Family continued to donate millions of dollars that led to the expansion of the six additional gardens along Kilian Boulevard. They also established an endowment at the Central Minnesota Community Foundation to help fund the operational costs of the Gardens.
The Clemens children had planned for years to create a tribute to their parents in the Gardens, and in 2010 initiated a historical tribute. Spearheaded by their daughter Mary Sue and her husband, Durand Potter, it features life sized, bronze statues of William and Virginia, depicting them strolling through the Gardens in its formative years.
The statues are housed in the first phase of a garden gazebo. This endeavor has expanded to include doming the Gazebo, decorative fencing, and signage telling of the Gardens’ development and history.
All of this aims to honor the Clemens’ generosity that created such an outstanding legacy in our community and serves as a model for all.