The Neisinger home has stood outside the Meadowbrook Detention Pond for a long time. Indeed, the household was established decades before the pond existed. The Neisinger yard holds a lone cedar tree, giant and tall. Cecil Neisinger, 93, planted it around the time he and his wife Ruth moved in, after its construction in 1945. Nathan Hale High School was just a golf course on the other side of 35th Avenue Northeast.

Friends of Cecil and Ruth describe them as “the first stewards of the pond.” As adjacent property owners, they worked with Seattle Public Utilities as stakeholders as the agency worked on the design and construction of the pond in 1998 to prevent flooding of the Thornton Creek watershed.

The couple loved wildlife and birding, particularly the blue heron, which can still be found at the pond today. They often visited the pond twice a day and “held court,” greeting other visitors and chatting with them about wildlife.

That was how Piper Hackett met the Neisingers in 2008. The pond was a “hidden treasure” near their old home on 105th Avenue Northeast.

“My son was four months old when we moved in,” she said.  “He learned to walk on the platform over the water.”

They would chat when they met at the pond, and became close.

“Ruth was just one of the most kind and loving people,’ Hackett said. “So friendly, so warm, super sharp. ... She had so much energy. She used to tell me being around young children kept her young.”

Ruth died on Jan. 31, 2016. She would have been 91 that March.

Friends were devastated. A makeshift memorial -- a laminated obituary, picture and cloth flowers -- was placed on the platform bridge. It remained for more than a year, and was frequently visited by Cecil, Hackett said. Cecil continues to visit the pond about twice a day.

But Linda Winter of the Friends of Meadowbrook Pond wanted to see a permanent memorial. A group eventually decided to dedicate a bench.

It fell to Hackett to research how it could be approved by the city -- a complicated process, as the pond is operated by Seattle Public Utilities rather than Seattle Parks.  But the agency worked with her every step of the way, until friends raised more than $1,900 for a steel bench and plaque.

Seattle Public Utilities has selected late May for installation of the bench, urban ecosystems manager Deb Heiden said.

A memorial service will be held after the installation. Anyone interested in attending can contact Hackett at