Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Dane County Parks Commission Honors First Woman to Serve as County Board Chair

November 05, 2010
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

Prairie Named in Honor of Mary Louise Symon


The Dane County Parks Commission has dedicated a 48-acre prairie in the Town of Verona in honor of Mary Louise Symon, the first woman to serve as chair of the Dane County Board.


The Mary Louise Symon Prairie is part of the Ice Age Junction Natural Resource Area on land owned by the county and is in the process of being restored.  As part of that restoration, volunteers will gather for a “prairie planting” this Saturday from noon until 4:00 p.m. to re-seed the prairie located at 8220 Raymond Road.


“Mary Louise Symon was a trailblazer for so many good progressive causes and naming this prairie in her honor is a small way we can remember her years of service to Dane County citizens,” County Executive Kathleen Falk said.


“The Dane County Park Commission is pleased to dedicate the Mary Louise Symon Prairie in her honor and memory,” Parks Commission Chair Bill Lunney said.  “One of the most significant leaders in the history of Dane County government, Mary Louise was the first woman ever to chair the county board.  For several decades she was a calm but determined voice for human rights and for preserving the natural environment of our county.”


The Ice Age Trail runs along the northern end of the Mary Louise Symon Prairie and there are plans to one day build a bicycle/pedestrian trail through the area.  A parking lot and kiosk will also be built at the prairie in the future and will include a memorial to Symon.  The county worked with the Symon Family to choose to name a county parcel the family thought was most appropriate.


Mary Louise Symon was first elected to the Dane County Board in 1970 and was re-elected five times, serving a total of 12 years on the board.  She served as chair of the board from 1974 until 1980 when she stepped down to become the first woman head of the Wisconsin Counties Association.


Symon passed away in October of 2009 at the age of 87.