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Connie Nelson
Reed and Naomi Clegg.

MAPLETON — A statue of children playing in a tree that now graces Mapleton City Park is inspiring a tree-house theme.

The statue, dedicated to Reed and Naomi Clegg by their four adult children, was unveiled in November. The four siblings; Connie Nelson of Provo, Carolyn Lloyd of Salt Lake City, Ken Clegg of West Valley City and Marcia Bean of Seattle purchased it from Southern California sculptor Ken Ross for $6,000.

Nelson said the idea for the statue came when she visited the City Council on another issue and learned that city officials were open to ideas for enhancing the park.

"They saw our commitment to recreation and children," said Stacey Child, parks and recreation director.

Just as Nelson was inspired by Child's City Council presentation, Child was inspired by the statue from Nelson and her siblings.

"It spurred us on," she said.

Playground equipment has been ordered to fit the theme, and a new concrete sidewalk may be decorated with stamped images of leaves.

"That's just one of our ideas," Child said. "It really fits with the statue."

The park already has many mature trees and was the first city park in Mapleton. A new pavilion is also planned.

Their parents, both 89, devoted their lives to the service of others, Nelson said. Reed Clegg worked as a hospital administrator for the federal government, which required the family to move often.

"We never really had a home," Nelson said.

But because her mother grew up in Mapleton, that home was more of an anchor to the Cleggs. It's two doors down from the city park where the Clegg children played while visiting their grandmother.

When Reed Clegg and Naomi Harmer married, their first move was to Washington, D.C.

"We lived from one end of the country to the other," Naomi Clegg said.

No matter where they lived, the couple was involved in civic affairs. When Reed Clegg retired as a veterans hospital administrator in Salt Lake City, the couple served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Ghana, Nelson said.

"They saw the poverty and the lack of medical equipment, so when their mission was over they couldn't leave Ghana behind," Nelson said.

Medical personnel were, for example, reusing needles after giving people injections, Reed Clegg said.

After the couple returned home, they and a few of their friends founded "Friends of West Africa" in 1982 with the purpose of gathering surplus medical supplies and donating them to the poverty-stricken region.

"We were throwing (the equipment) away in this country, but it was better than what they had there," Nelson said.

The Cleggs gathered it up and shipped it to West Africa. The organization functioned until the 1990s, shipping more than $2 million in surplus medical supplies.

"We shipped a wide variety of stuff," he said.

"Their contacts from their mission saw that it went to people who needed it," Nelson said.

E-mail: rodger@desnews.com