Ruth Ziolkowski, who carried on her late husband's dream of honoring Native Americans by carving the massive likeness of warrior Crazy Horse into the Black Hills in South Dakota, has died. She was 87. Mike Morgan, a spokesman for the memorial, said Ziolkowski died Wednesday night in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Ziolkowski, a soft-spoken visionary, oversaw the ongoing project until she entered hospice care in April, a month after her cancer diagnosis. "Ruth Ziolkowski, the remarkable matriarch of Crazy Horse Memorial, was loved and admired by millions who were inspired by her example to 'never forget your dreams,'" said Jack Marsh, a member of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. "Ruth, as much as anyone, advanced reconciliation between the Native and non-Native people of the United States."
Then Ruth Carolyn Ross, she came to South Dakota's Black Hills from Connecticut in 1948, with other young people who volunteered to help sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski begin the carving that year. The two were married Thanksgiving Day in 1950 at the site. He was 42 and she was 24.