Bench dedicated to Sunset Hills environmentalist

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Photo by Elizabeth Carter

Attendees at the dedication April 9, including Walter Eschbach, seated center on the bench.

A park bench dedication ceremony took place at Nancy Eschbach Forest River Trail Park April 9, honoring Sunset Hills resident Walter Eschbach’s lifelong service as an environmentalist and active supporter of preserving open space in the St. Louis area. 

Eschbach was joined by a group of neighborhood residents, friends and family to celebrate. 

“This was a perfect day. I couldn’t have asked for more,” Eschbach said on the day of the event. 

Eschbach was a founding member of the Open Space Council in 1965, and the council helped establish the Nancy Eschbach Forest River Trail Park. Elizabeth Carter, Eschbach’s daughter, said her sister Carolyn Botilla was instrumental in the creation of the park.

The park is slated to be a part of a trail of parks linked together with a path along the Meramec River.

The bench was purchased by Eschbach’s family — Gerald Brown, director of Sunset Hills Parks and Recreation expedited its installation in the park.

The bench features a transcription written by Eschbach — “Enjoy Nature’s Peace, Preserve Nature’s Peace.” 

“My father turned 94 and I wanted him to know, while he was still alive, that there will always be a bench along this trail with his message of preserving nature’s beauty. A message that will touch many parkgoers and live far beyond his years,” Carter said.