OVERLAND PARK, KS (May 11, 2015) – Georgia Erickson always gave back to the community when she served as a three-term Republican councilwoman representing Ward 5 (first elected in 1985). She today continues to do this from her apartment home at Tallgrass Creek retirement community.
Erickson performs puppet shows for children at the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, an ecosystem oasis she helped to establish when she held elective office. She is a longstanding member of the Board of the Friends of the Arboretum, constantly promoting and supporting its mission.
Her love of puppetry dates from her work with the Kids on the Block program for Easter Seals Society. Each of the Kids puppets was defined by a health issue, and her shows were used to help schoolchildren become more aware and sensitive to the issue. "I wrote a rap for Renaldo, a puppet who was blind," she said. "It was a wonderful experience."
That motivation is what still defines her, just as it did when she and her late husband Richard donated a water garden at the Arboretum in its formative days. The water garden creates a space that captivates the visitor with a dramatic blend of bird and butterfly plants, wildflowers, and ornamental grasses. Benches throughout the garden offer space for reflection and relaxation amid the gentle sound of rumbling water and a Garden Bell.
She is now involved with helping to build an International Sculpture Garden at the Arboretum.
Erickson and her husband moved into their first home at 97th Street and Kessler Lane in 1959 when what is now Overland Park was known as the Village of Glen, famous for having been the geographic meeting spot for the California Trail, the Oregon Trail and the Santa Fe Trail.
The population then was 25,000. Overland Park became a first-class city in 1960 and its population today is 181,000. Her eyes light up when she speaks of her civic pride. "Overland Park's quality of life is setting the standard for other cities to follow," she said.
Erickson still answers and responds to every phone call she receives – just as she did when she was a councilwoman with a reputation for advocating for her constituents. This practice comes in handy when she spends afternoons playing in the Overland Park Golf golf League.
"I feel like I am coming home again," said Erickson, who has five children and 17 grandchildren. "I love it."