Courthouse woodcarving honors those who died young

A new woodcarving featuring a young baseball player now stands on the south lawn of the Grundy County Courthouse. County Supervisor Harlyn Riekena, whose son Kent died in an accident at the age of 12 in 1974, worked together with woodcarver Gary Keenan of Des Moines on the project. (Robert Maharry/The Grundy Register photo) 

Kent Riekena loved the Minnesota Twins—especially Rod Carew, his favorite player—and was such an obsessive fan that he could recite the Major League Baseball facts and figures on any given day with pinpoint accuracy. Forty-four years after his untimely death at the age of 12 in 1974, there’s a new monument outside of the Grundy County Courthouse remembering Riekena and all of the other local children whose lives were snatched from them far too soon.


“He listened all day long, and he would memorize the standings,” Grundy County Supervisor Harlyn Riekena said of his son. “He could tell you every team in the standings and their win-loss percentage.”


Riekena’s story is just as heartbreaking today as it was 44 years ago: Kent got out of a truck to cross the road in front of the family’s home outside of Wellsburg, a car hit him and he died instantly as his mother witnessed it all. 


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