‘Gone, but . . . always in our hearts’

| August 3, 2011 | 0 Comments

The Remembrance Garden, a memorial to survivors and those killed in the I-35W bridge collapse four years ago, was dedicated Aug. 1. Helen Hausmann paused at the pillar dedicated to her husband, Peter Hausmann, who was killed in the disaster. Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

Memorial offers family from St. Joseph, Rosemount, spot to gather

Helen Hausmann lost her best friend — her husband Peter — in the I-35W bridge collapse. On the fourth anniversary of the tragedy, Aug. 1, she helped unveil a memorial to victims and survivors.

“Now we have a place where everyone that lost a loved one can come,” she said before the public unveiling of the memorial. “We all come together and remember our loved ones. It’s a point where we can all meet and share our souls.”

The Remembrance Garden is a memorial honoring the 13 victims and 145 survivors of the bridge collapse. Located on the east bank of the Mississippi River across from the Guthrie Theater and Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis, the memorial includes 13 lighted pillars — each with the name of one of the victims and a reflection written by a family member — as well as a stone wall with water flowing over the names of the survivors.

Surrounded by love

Peter Hausmann, a former lay missionary and founding member of the board of directors of the archdiocesan Center for Mission, was a member of St. Joseph in Rosemount. The parish has continued to surround the family with care, love and attention, said Father Paul Jarvis, pastor.

Helen Hausmann said, “Many families in the parish have become part of my family and they have stayed that way. They were there before Peter died and our bonds have gotten stronger. That’s one blessing that God has given me since Peter died.”

Peter’s body was found nine days after the bridge collapsed. A police chaplain told Helen he was found leaning in the window of another car, with his hands on the seatbelt of a toddler, trying to free her.

Father Jarvis recalled Peter’s heroic actions the day the bridge collapsed.

“By following Jesus’ teachings and example of total gift of self, even at one’s own expense, Peter dove down  [in the river] to save someone he didn’t personally know,” Father Jarvis said. “He demonstrates, he witnesses to what a disciple of Christ, a citizen of heaven, just does.”

Despite torrential rains, survivors and the families of those that were killed in the disaster came for a first look at the finished memorial in a private unveiling in the afternoon.  A public dedication was held later that day and was attended by Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Gov. Mark Dayton.

During a short  break in the rain, Helen Hausmann and her family — daughters Justina and Theresa and sons Andrew and David, as well as Peter’s brothers Jim and Father Leo Hausmann — talked with family members of other victims.

God is everywhere

Helen stood on the platform overlooking the river and told stories about Peter’s life here and in Kenya, where he ministered as a missionary. It was there that they met and then married in 1990.

Helen sees part of Peter alive in their children and is thankful to have them around her.

“I remind my children to remember their father’s teaching to grow up to be holy people, to be decent, and most of all to know who God is, always,” she said. “He’s not just in church where you go sit down and make the sign of the cross, God is everywhere. He’s a witness to everything you do, when you do something nice, it counts.”

Before heading to the Guthrie Theater for a reception, Hausmann looked at the pillar, etched with Peter’s name and the personal reflection written by their daughter Justina, and said, “You are gone, but you are never far from me, you are always in our hearts.”

Category: Local News