The Heign family with memorial stone: Greg, Bob, Mary Lou, Randy and Jeff. The memorial is located along the Pumpkinvine, 100 yards south of Sun Rise Lane.
Members of the Heign family gathered on Sept. 19 to dedicate a section the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail in Middlebury to Ike Heign. Jim Smith, former executive director of the Friends who negotiated the purchase of the land from the Heign family, offered the following remarks.
Thirteen years ago, almost to the day, Bob Carrico, our Trail Operations Manager, and I pulled into the driveway of Mary Lou Heign not far from where we are standing today. It was about 7:30 in the evening and the sun was setting. We were there representing the board of the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. We brought with us a Purchase Contract signed by John Yoder, our president, a check for earnest money, a good pen and high hopes.
We were there to purchase what we called "the Heign property." The "Heign property" was not a big parcel of land. It was part of the old railroad corridor that ran through Middlebury and was about one acre in size, a long, skinny piece of real estate which started at Sunrise Lane and extended south about a quarter of a mile. But it was huge to us! Without this 33-foot wide parcel, the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail would pass through the million-dollar US 20 tunnel, go past "That Pretty Place" and end with a whimper about here, in the middle of nowhere. We really needed that piece of land; without it, there was no obvious way to build a trail through Middlebury. But of course, we did not want to look or sound desperate as we made an offer to purchase the "Heign property."
We weren't far into our meeting before we realized that Mary Lou and her sons were supporters of the trail. They too wanted to see it pass through Middlebury and link up with Shipshewana and Goshen. It didn't take us long to reach terms acceptable to all. Then Mary Lou mentioned that she would like the portion of the trail that would be built on the "Heign Property" to be named in honor of her late husband, Ike. He had also been a supporter of the trail, but unfortunately had died in an auto accident the year before. I hand-wrote that condition onto the bottom of the agreement, and we both initialed it. The meeting soon ended, and we were gone.
I am very pleased to be here today, to again thank Mary Lou and her family for selling the land that made the trail through Middlebury possible, and at long last, to participate in dedicating this section of the trail to the memory of Ike Heign.