Keeping a Family’s Story Alive in the Nielsen Children’s Garden

Every person who walks within the Garden has a story to tell.

For Bev and Tyler Jahn, that story started when they were married here on a ridiculously hot day in June of 2006. Since then they’ve enjoyed the Garden in a variety of ways including the annual WPS Garden of Lights, the 2018 Nature Connects® exhibit, Mother’s Day, summer concerts and other visits to see the gorgeous buds and blooms from year to year.

The Jahns on a recent family trip.

A bench in the Nielsen Children’s Garden, however, brings Bev, Tyler, and their two children, Elliott and Gwen, back to visit every single year. The bench holds the statues of a little boy and girl reading a book. A plaque to the left of the statues reads, “‘When hello means goodbye…’ In loving memory of our twin Angels, Ruth & David Jahn” with the date 3.18.14.

On that day five years ago, Bev, who was about five months pregnant with twins, went into pre-term labor.

“We knew that if they were born then, it would be too soon for them to live,” explains Bev. “They just didn’t have the equipment small enough to care for babies that small.”

Elliot and Gwen visiting the commemorative bench the very first year (2014).

Bev and Tyler knew they wanted to do something to commemorate their twins after they passed away, but they didn’t initially know what that “something” was. The couple decided they didn’t want a grave or a cemetery site. They also considered donating money to a park for playground equipment, among other ideas, but weren’t sure how long something like that would last.

“We wanted something interactive … (and) more permanent,” they share.

Bench with balloons in 2015.

They soon found a bench with statues online and knew that was what they wanted to honor the twins, but they still didn’t know where they would place it.

Eventually, one of Bev’s coworkers connected them to her neighbor, someone who worked at the Garden and could possibly do something in terms of displaying the bench. That neighbor ended up being the Garden’s Executive Director, Susan Garot, and by July of 2014, the bench was placed in the Gertrude B. Nielsen Children’s Garden.

Jahn kids on bench in 2016.

Bev and Tyler agree that the idea of installing the bench in the Garden was perfect because they had gotten married here and continued to come here as a family over the years.

“It seemed like it all happened by accident, but it was this perfect accident,” says Bev.

When March 18, 2015 arrived-the one year anniversary of their loss-Bev and Tyler asked Elliott and Gwen to write letters to the twins, Ruth and David, and then the family picked up two balloons: one blue, one pink. They came to the Garden after that and walked to the bench in the Children’s Garden for a moment of remembrance.

This commemoration on the twins’ birthday has become an annual tradition for the Jahn family ever since.

Visiting Ruth and David’s bench in 2017.

“We didn’t realize at first that this was something we were going to be doing every year, but when the first year came around,” Tyler says, “we wanted to remember.”

Bev and Tyler also share that coming to the bench every year has been therapeutic for them and their kids. They said it’s also a good way to keep the memory of their twins alive, especially for Elliott and Gwen who never got to see Ruth and David.

“Even at school when they say, ‘how many sisters and brothers do you have?’ (Elliott and Gwen) include (the twins) too,” Bev says.

Elliott and Gwen know the twins’ birthday, so every year they get excited to come to the Garden.

People who donated to the bench or have endured similar losses to the Jahn family will often send pictures to Bev or Tyler of their kids on the bench.

“We even had a friend who just went through the same thing we did just recently,” Tyler says. “And she sent us a picture of her son sitting on the bench.”

Whether visitors know the story behind the bench or not, Bev and Tyler are happy when they receive pictures or see social media posts of kids sitting on the bench because they’re reminded that it’s being used the way they intended.

A young visitor interacting with the commemorative bench of Ruth and David.

The Jahn family’s annual visits not only help keep the memory of their twins alive, but also remind them that the bench is something that touches so many other visitors to the Garden, even those who’ve experienced a similar loss.

One of their favorite things about the Garden is that there are many stories within its walls. With statues like the one of George and Marguerite Kress in the Kress Oval Center or others in the Nielsen Children’s Garden, there are numerous stories hidden within them for visitors to explore on their own.

Bev, looking towards Tyler, agreeing. “Now, there’s a story behind our bench, too.”

We thank the Jahns for sharing their story with us and are honored they chose the Garden to remember their beloved twins. We hope you’ll take a moment to visit Ruth and David’s bench in the Nielsen Children’s Garden during your next visit.

If you’d like more details on how to commemorate loved ones at the Garden, visit our Memorials and Tributes web page.

You Can Make a Difference

The Garden needs your help to continue to provide more than 183,000 annual visitors access to a living museum of beautiful plants, outstanding educational opportunities and engaging events and exhibits. Your support will provide exceptional garden experiences that will continue to grow memories for many years to come.

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For more information on how you can support the Garden or how to transfer Gifts of Stock or IRA gifts, contact Cindy Berton, Director of Development at 920.491.3691 ext. 104 or

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