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Evergreen Cemetery Potter’s Field Memorial Project – Stage One Complete

Oconto, WI, November 18, 2020. After a summer of pandemic delays, the first portion of the Evergreen Cemetery Potter’s Field Memorial Project has been completed. The Memorial, which is designed to honor the memory of more than 300 people buried in “common ground” unmarked graves throughout the cemetery, was made possible by a $20,525 grant from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation to the Oconto County Historical Society.

The first stage of the project was completed Monday, Nov. 16th, when a bronze plaque honoring the memory of the people buried in the cemetery was permanently attached to a two-ton granite boulder base located in the middle of the South Potter’s Field. The boulder, which is native to our area, came from the Mountain Stonework’s Quarry in Mountain, Wisconsin and was transported to Oconto earlier this summer by Brian Vandenlangenberg. Brian is the owner of the Oconto City Monument Company and has been assisting Pete Gabrielson who is overseeing the project. Several other local citizens have also volunteered their service to make the memorial a reality including Jeremy Wusterbarth and the city of Oconto, and Scott and Brandon Tousey of Scott’s Concrete. Jeremy, Brian, and Scott’s expertise in the positioning of the two-ton boulder and the pouring of the concrete base was critical to the successful completion of this part of the project.

The monument itself is located to the left as you drive into the cemetery on the southernmost road about 200 feet from that entrance. With the exception of the first block, the first 400 feet or so along the left side of that road is a “potter’s field” where as many as 200 or more people are buried in unmarked graves. There are also a couple other “potter’s field” sections in the cemetery, including an area on the same side of that road toward the west end of the cemetery and an area along the north side of the entrance road on the north side of the cemetery. In the future we hope to have memorial markers in these areas as well.

Stage Two of the project will be started this winter and will be completed next spring. It includes the construction of a 16 x 8-foot memorial plaza comprised of granite paver stones each engraved with the names and interment dates of the individuals that are buried there. The granite is slated to arrive sometime within the next two weeks and our goal is to have the project completed by Memorial Day, 2021. A dedication ceremony will be held at that time. A final mention must be made of the contribution that has been made by the Oconto County Genealogical Society, especially Kitty Werner and Vern Mortier whose earlier research in the Oconto cemeteries and expertise in genealogy has saved us an incredible amount of time.

When you get a chance to visit our monument, please do; and as you pause and reflect, please take some time to think about the words on the plaque that, “This monument is dedicated to ensure that the final resting place of these departed souls will remain forever consecrated and their names be forever remembered”. This monument is for them.


Oconto County Economic Development Corporation is pleased to announce it has received a $8,000 grant from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation, Inc. These funds will support, Winter Wonderland, the popular holiday light display in the City of Oconto.
The grant will allow Winter Wonderland to expand the holiday light display this season. Nothing captures the spirit of the holidays quite like going to see arrays of sparkling lights and ornaments. This expansion wouldn’t be possible without the assistance from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation. This year especially, we could all use a little more holiday spirit.
“It’s spectacular to see families enjoying the lights, time together and the community coming together each year. ” stated Samantha Boucher, Oconto County Tourism Manager, “Even the most bitter of Scrooges can’t resist”.
Don’t miss the opening night of Winter Wonderland scheduled for Friday, November 27, 2020 at 5:00pm at Holtwood Campground, 400 Holtwood Way, in Oconto. See first-hand all the new additions that were made possible by the Leon H. and Clymene M Bond Foundation grant.
Feel the magic this holiday season and stay safe doing it.

Oconto County Historical Society Receives Grant

The Oconto County Historical Society (OCHS) is pleased to announce that we have received a grant of $20,525 from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation to fund the creation of a Potter’s Field Memorial in Oconto’s Evergreen Cemetery. The Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation is a family endowed foundation committed to the growth and improvement of Oconto County and its surrounding areas. To date the Foundation has given over $4 million dollars to support our local community.

The Memorial is designed to honor the memory of the more than 300 people buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery; people that for too long have remained unknown and unrecognized. The proposed design includes a granite boulder monument with a bronze plaque mounted on it and a plaza of granite paver stones engraved with the name and interment date of each person buried there. In addition, two small gray granite columns will be set into the ground to mark the boundaries of the original potter’s field.

Potter’s fields were common in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but today, the location of most of them is unknown to the public. They were common ground sections for burial of the poor, destitute and disenfranchised; the people who had no one to pay for their burial and most of whom are buried there without a marker or stone. The Evergreen Potter’s Field, is located in an area that appears as if it is just vacant space but current records at Evergreen show that beginning in the 1850’s, over 200 people have been buried there while scores more have been buried in other “poor ground” areas located throughout the rest of the cemetery.

This “Potter’s Field Memorial” will be a blessing for our entire community, says OCHS member Peter Gabrielson who has done considerable research on the potter’s field in Evergreen Cemetery. Pete stumbled on to its existence while doing research for another article he was working on and was completely surprised. “My reaction was; a potter’s field, you mean we have a potter’s field here in Oconto?” Since then almost everyone else he meets has had the same reaction. “I thought, this is something people need to know about.”

Our hope is that the Potter’s Field Memorial will be completed by this autumn. We know that under the current conditions there may be some uncertainty in the timeline as we move forward but we have no doubt that it will be completed. It is our belief that this project will be a great benefit to the people of Oconto and that it is an opportunity for us in this day and age, to affirm our empathy and compassion; values that show our humanity and are a reminder that we need to treat all people as equal in the eyes of God. The time has come for us to give these individuals the recognition and respect that they deserve; in fact, have deserved for a long time.

Rainbow House Domestic Abuse Services Receives Crisis Grant

Rainbow House Domestic Abuse Services is pleased to announce an award from the Bond Foundation. The LEON H. AND CLYMENE M. BOND FOUNDATION, INC. is a family endowed Foundation committed to the growth and improvement of Oconto County and its surrounding areas. The Foundation was established in 1993 by Leon Bond (benefactor of the Foundation and founder of the Bond Pickle Company) and Earl DeCloux, residents of the City of Oconto. To date the Foundation has given over $4 million dollars to support our local community.
Those experiencing domestic violence are now, more than ever, unable to escape abuse as a result of coronoavirus. Survivors and their children may be trapped in homes with abusers, unable to call for help. Usual resources for seeking help are limited. Children can no longer communicate concerns with a teacher or school counselor. Family and friends who might have provided a safe place to stay may now be sheltering in place themselves, often with limited resources and an insistence on maintaining social distancing. Many survivors may feel as though they have no place to turn. Rainbow House remains open. Our Advocates are staffing the crisis line 24/7. We’re still responding to survivor needs for shelter, food, legal assistance, and safety planning around the clock. However, the model by which we provide services has changed. We are now housing each family in their own separate housing units. This model creates greater safety for survivors as well as staff by reducing the risk for communicable disease transfer. It is a more expensive model of providing shelter, but a far safer approach. The Bond Foundation has provided $11,440 for three months of off-site shelter and crisis-line coverage for survivors in Oconto “We’re well on our way towards providing greater safety and access to resources for survivors. We can’t thank the Bond Foundation enough for their support of our mission”, says Courtney Olson, Rainbow House Director.
If you are involved in a domestic violence situation, the number for Rainbow House is 715-735-6656. Please call 24 hours a day for free and confidential services.

OCEDC Receives Leadership Grant

The Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation recently awarded a $2000.00 grant to Leadership Oconto County. Leadership Oconto County (LOC) aims to expose participants, through a nine month curriculum, to a broad range of opportunities/concerns specific to Oconto County, develop confident leaders, prepare participants for positions of influence, improve decision-making skills, build networks, and develop personal and interpersonal skills. LOC was designed not only to improve the individual participant, but also to impact Oconto County. As a program requirement, participants are tasked with the creation and fulfillment of an impactful community project. To truly achieve the future desired outcome for the community, the project must create social, cultural, and community benefit for all residents, and fulfill needs not currently being met. The grant funds from the Bond Foundation will be used for the class project and are greatly appreciated as they advance the potential scope and impact of this year’s project.

For more information on Leadership Oconto County please visit

Picture Left to Right: Bond Foundation Representatives Mary McMonagle, President; Chris Augustine, Director; and Jenni Hanna, Executive Director and Leadership Oconto County Representatives Paul Ehrfurth, OCEDC Executive Director; Kim Pytleski, Oconto County Clerk; and Katie Daul, HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital

Nurses Nook Receives $40,000 Grant

Oconto Falls – HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital is pleased to announce the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation, Inc., has awarded a $40,000 grant to support Nurse’s Nook – a program that provides aid to children and families in need in all five school districts in Oconto County: Gillett, Suring, Oconto Falls, Oconto and Lena.

Nurse’s Nook provides students and their families with basic needs items including non-perishable food, personal hygiene products, clothing, medical supplies/devices and vouchers for transportation to medical appointments. Items are kept stocked within each of the school districts throughout the year and provided to students free-of-charge on an as-needed basis. Nurse’s Nook also offers an Adopt-A-Family Christmas program to provide families with winter necessities including boots, jackets, hats and gloves. It also offers a Weekend Food program which provides students a bag of nutritious food that contains enough items to allow them to make a full meal at home each week.

“We are immensely grateful to the Bond Foundation for their generous support of Nurse’s Nook and the children and families we serve here in Oconto County,” said Nuala Nowicki, founder of the Nurse’s Nook program. “These funds will allow us to maintain programming, purchase additional supplies and serve more families in Oconto County.”

This is the second Bond Foundation grant to be awarded to Nurse’s Nook. In 2018, it awarded Nurse’s Nook $30,000 which was used to help expand the program to the Oconto and Lena school districts.

Nurse’s Nook informally began in 2014 when Nuala, who is also a Prevea Health school nurse for the Gillett School District, recognized that poverty in the community was negatively impacting students’ abilities to learn and succeed in school. Today, Nurse’s Nook is an official program of HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital, operated in collaboration with Nuala, Prevea Health and countless volunteers and donors who dedicate time and effort to collecting, organizing and distributing supplies.

The Nurse’s Nook program relies solely on support and donations from the community to operate. Anyone who would like to learn more information or donate to Nurse’s Nook should contact Debbie Hockers at (920) 433-8653 or email

Oconto Unified School District Grant

The Oconto Unified School District is thrilled to have partnered with the Bond Foundation on two projects. With the support of the Bond Foundation, OUSD is now a proud owner of a vertical hydroponics garden. The school district will also be able to upgrade the sound system in the High School gymnasium.

The Oconto Middle School runs courses of interest for the students at the end of the day. During this time students are encouraged to learn and explore areas that may have peaked their curiosity. Many of the Oconto Middle School students are interested in gardening and the science behind indoor vertical hydroponic gardens. This program/course teaches students how to grow food such as lettuce, spices and herbs. Some activities include planting, monitoring the water levels in the system, and participating in educationally based lessons. Benefits of a hydroponic system are higher crop yield, faster growth, less space consumption and resources, and delicious and nutritious food. Students are energized by the process of the hydroponics garden. Oconto thanks the Bond Foundation for the $5,440.00 grant towards growing their student’s knowledge.

Another area of celebration for OUSD will come with updates to the sound system at the High School. It is an objective of the school district to promote the many positive activities our students are engaged in. The upgraded sound system will enhance the events that are held at the High School. Allowing for clear and concise announcements, presentations or sports commentary to be heard by all. Again, OUSD appreciates the $18,894.93 grant support from the Bond Foundation to make this sound system enhance the programing .

Oconto Unified School District is proud of the continued partnership with the Bond Foundation. It is with this kind of support that OUSD continues to make the strides and gains that all OUSD students deserve.

2018 Scholarship Recipients

Oliva Ortiz is the 2018 recipient of the $4,000 Leon H. & Clymene M. Bond Scholarship. Olivia is the daughter of Monica Lardinois and Juan Ortiz. She plans to attend UW-Milwaukee to study Chemistry with a Pre-Medical path.

Kelton Lepak is the 2018 recipient of the $2,000 Earl J. DeCloux Memorial Scholarship. Kelton is the son of Eugene Lepak. He plans to attend UW-Madison to study Mechanical Engineering.

The Leon H. & Clymene M. Bond Scholarship and the Earl J. DeCloux Memorial Scholarship are awarded to graduating seniors from Oconto High School, who demonstrate leadership ability, a high academic record and service as evidence by school and community. They must plan to enroll in a course of study in a public or private college. Preference may be given to a student majoring in the health or recreation field.


Bond Foundation awards Neville Public Museum Foundation a $10,000 Grant

The Leon H. & Clymene M. Bond Foundation awarded the Neville Public Museum Foundation a $10,000 grant on May 5, 2017. The grant money was for the exhibit Estamos Aqui: Celebrating Latino Identity in Northeast Wisconsin. This exhibit connected the residents of Northeastern Wisconsin with the emerging and diverse Latino communities that have settled into the region. The exhibition was developed collaboratively with a committee of engaged Latinos and museum staff members and educated audiences about the contributions, diversity, and growth of the Latino population.

The exhibit included a replica of the Saldana family home. The Saldana family were Latino migrants that worked at the Bond Pickle Company in Oconto, Wisconsin. The Neville Museum hopes the exhibit will help build cultural bridges in the region by more widely telling the Latino story and publicizing the contributions of the population.


Oconto County Sheriff’s Department Awarded $30,000 Grant

With the help of the community, the Oconto County Law Enforcement Executive Group (OCLEEG) was able to make the job of law enforcement in the county a little bit safer. OCLEEG sought help from the community to purchase bullet resistant gear to protect our law enforcement officers in the event they must face a suspect with a rifle. OCLEEG represents all the law enforcement agencies in Oconto County.

Oconto County Law Enforcement agencies have been training and exercising together to respond to and control active threats such as active shooter. Our law enforcement officers were not equipped with the ballistic protective gear necessary to counter the dangerous threats presented by an active shooter. Because the law enforcement officers in Oconto County did not have the financial resources to purchase this equipment, they sought assistance to purchase vests and helmets to provide protection to officers when they are called to respond to armed encounters.

The goal was to equip every officer in Oconto County with a rifle rated vest and a helmet. OCLEEG purchased this equipment for the deputies and officers at approximately $1000 for each officer.

Fifty vests and helmets were purchased with 28 going to the Oconto County Sheriff’s Office, 9 to Oconto PD, 7 to Oconto Falls PD, 4 to Gillett PD, 2 to Lena PD, and 1 to Suring PD.

The Bond Foundation contributed $30,000 to this project.