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Community mourns the passing of Barb King

March 10, 2008

She was a champion of children, health and wellness

Landscape Structures Inc. of Delano has sadly announced the passing of president and co-founder Barbara (Barb) King.

She died March 4, at home with her family, after a courageous seven-month battle with cancer. She was 61.

For more than 30 years, Barb had been an active advocate at the local, state, and national levels for enhancing the lives of all people, especially children and families.

Barb co-founded Landscape Structures with her husband, Steven King, in 1971.

Since that time, the family-owned company has introduced many playground innovations that changed the playground industry.

Barb headed up the sales and marketing area, oversaw the manufacturing operations of the company, and worked closely with staff on a day-to-day basis.

Barb advocated an open, friendly, and empowering culture at Landscape Structures that focused on continuous improvement (kaizen).

She ensured that every one of the more than 300 employees had an equal voice in suggesting change, improvement and progressive action for the company. Barb was a very familiar face, both in the office and out on the shop floor, and always had a smile for all.

Born in Illinois, Barb graduated from Iowa State University in 1968, with a degree in food science. She had a life-long passion for healthy living, better nutrition, and creating healthy and sustainable lifestyles for children, families, and communities.

Barb served on several boards of directors, including Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Landscape Architecture Foundation, National Association of Women Business Owners, and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Board of Trustees.

Barb received numerous state and national awards during her career. She was selected Woman Business Owner of the Year for the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO).

She was inducted as an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) in 2004. Barb was also nominated and awarded membership on the “Committee of 200” Professional Women’s Organization.

In 2005, Barb, along with Steve, received the Christian Petersen Design Award from Iowa State University’s College of Design.

In 1994, in partnership with her husband, Barb received the Small Business Person of the Year award for the six-state Midwest region.

“Barb’s death is, first of all, a tragic loss for her family, and for all of us at Landscape Structures. She was a tremendous part of who we are as a company, and had an incredible passion and zest for everything she did. She was unfailingly optimistic, and her curiosity and love of learning and life were contagious,” said Vice President Pat Faust. “It was amazing – anyone who had even the briefest interaction with her was profoundly affected. To say she’ll be missed is a huge understatement.”

One of Barb’s proudest achievements was founding the Säjai Foundation in 2006.

This national non-profit organization promotes healthy lifestyles and healthy futures for children and families. She served on the board and was a primary benefactor.

As founder, she was passionate about the mission and goals of the Foundation. She strongly believed that we can all make a difference in the lives of children, and can combat the tide of childhood obesity.

Through the foundation, she worked to be a catalyst for change, educate children, and help them on their journey to a healthier life. Through the foundation, she also helped produce relevant research that can help schools, youth-based organizations and communities to better serve children, and promote healthier futures.

Barb enjoyed and respected all aspects of the natural world and had a strong connection with the outdoors.

She loved spending time at her north woods cabin with husband Steve, her children, Erin with husband Mark, son Adam with wife Tara, and granddaughters, Isabelle and Charlotte. She also enjoyed relaxing at her home in Florida and traveling to new places. Barb was a very spiritual person and she believed in the healing power of nature.

She respected a wide variety of cultures and traditions, and saw the goodness in all people.

She positively influenced many, both directly and indirectly through her work and on a personal level. She was a truly unique individual, and will leave an empty space in the world.

Barb will be grieved and missed by her co-workers, employees, and all who were fortunate enough to work with her on a daily basis. She is survived by her loving and supportive husband of 40 years, Steve King, son Adam King (Tara), Erin King (Mark) and her two treasured granddaughters, Isabelle and Charlotte.

At Wednesday evening’s Delano City Council meeting, Mayor Joe McDonald asked the community to keep Steve and the King family in thoughts and prayers, hailing Barb as “a great community leader, wife, and mother.”

“On behalf of the city, we extend our deepest condolences,” McDonald said.

Landscape Structures is a global provider of commercial playground equipment.

Celebration of Barb King set for Tuesday

A celebration of Barb King’s life will take place Tuesday, March 11 with a program at 3 p.m., followed by mixing and mingling until 6 p.m.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a “Barb story” and photos. Photos and stories can also be e-mailed to barbstories@playlsi.com.

This event will take place at Landscape Structures, located at 601 Seventh Street South, in Delano.

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