The Town of New Paltz held a community barbecue and dedication ceremony last Thursday, September 3 at the New Paltz Sports and Recreation Park — formerly known as the “Field of Dreams” — on Libertyville Road across from the Ulster County Fairgrounds. Town supervisor Susan Zimet officiated over the dedication of the pavilion at the park to the memories of Kyle Brewer and Margrit Zimmerman, both of whom touched the hearts of many before their untimely passings earlier this year.
Kyle Brewer, a 16-year-old sophomore at New Paltz High School with an undetected heart condition, suffered an initial heart attack during after-school track and field practice in March followed by a second and fatal heart attack at Westchester Medical Center. Margrit Zimmerman passed away at Woodcrest Bruderhof in Rifton on March 12 after a long battle with cancer. She was 45.
The pavilion at the park was actually completed in 2013, but its official dedication was waiting on completion of the handicapped accessible parking lot next to it, said Zimet. The pavilion was built through a joint effort of the town highway department and the Bruderhof community, who contributed both materials and hands-on labor to erect the gracefully made structure that houses 16 long picnic tables underneath its wooden beams. The New Paltz Adult Recreation Association, led by Michael Beck, donated $10,000 to purchase the cement slab the pavilion sits on. Its location, overlooking the baseball fields and sand volleyball courts at the scenic 30-acre park, affords stellar views of Shawangunk Ridge and the iconic Mohonk tower.
The decision to dedicate the pavilion to both Kyle and Margrit reflects the impact of their loss on so many people. “They both died too young, and they’re both people who really meant a lot to this community,” Zimet said. “They represented the good spirit of New Paltz.”
The dedication ceremony was preceded by a community barbecue of hamburgers, hot dogs and fresh fruit provided by the Bruderhof community. It was attended by friends and family of Kyle and Margrit and community members along with New Paltz mayor Tim Rogers, deputy supervisor Jeff Logan and other elected officials.
Those assembled were shown a photocopy of what the bronze dedication plaque at the site will look like. Mounted on a large rock at the entrance to the pavilion, it will read, “This pavilion is dedicated to the memory of Kyle Brewer and Margrit Zimmerman. May their memory live on in the beauty of this park and the land that surrounds it.” Zimet told those gathered that when the plaque was ordered, highway superintendent Chris Marx put the cost of it on his own credit card, and has declined to allow the town to reimburse him; he’s purchasing the plaque in honor of his father, who recently passed away. When the actual plaque is ready to be installed, another dedication ceremony will be held at that time.
Margrit’s husband of 25 years, Reuben Zimmerman, spoke first. “It’s an honor for us to be here today and to be here with Kyle’s family. Our family has spent many happy hours here playing ball, and working on the pavilion with the boys, and teaching the kids to drive in the gravel lots; this is a special place for us. We’re proud to be part of the New Paltz community, and on behalf of the Zimmerman family and the Bruderhof; thank you.” Margrit was a registered nurse and worked in hospitals in Kingston and Albany before settling in to work alongside her husband at the Bruderhof medical practice. She loved caring for women and children and attended the arrival of hundreds of babies at Woodcrest’s birthing center. Margrit left behind five children; Zachary, David, Jennifer, Peter and Andrea.
When Kyle Brewer passed away he was described by the school principal as “a kind, witty young man who had a great sense of humor. He was a good friend, studious, thoughtful and mature beyond his age… simply an impressive young man who positively touched the people he knew.”
Kyle’s grandfather Tony Brown spoke at the pavilion dedication surrounded by extended family that included his wife Jane and daughter Misty (Kyle’s mother), Kyle’s step-dad, Josh Ennest and Kyle’s three younger brothers, Phoenix, Lincoln and Max. “We, too, are just so blessed to be surrounded by the love of New Paltz,” said Brown. He noted how Kyle passed, from an unexpected heart attack. “Only our God knows why. But we rejoice in all the good memories the 16 years gave us.”
Kyle’s ashes had just been interred days earlier at the Rural Cemetery in New Paltz, Brown added. “A beautiful location; his place. And now he has another place here.” Kyle’s young brothers will come to the park often as they grow up in New Paltz, said their grandfather, “Just like Kyle did, who came here to play Little League and Babe Ruth baseball. They’ll come here often and they’ll know, that this is one of Kyle’s places.”
Brown thanked the New Paltz community for their love and support and thanked the Bruderhof for reaching out when Kyle passed away, coming to his memorial service. “We’re so blessed to have you all here today and to have this Town of New Paltz in our lives.”
Following the heartfelt words of husband and grandfather, Bruderhof Pastor Johann Christoph Arnold led the assembled in a prayer.