by KEVIN TAYLOR & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he poignant story of Spokan Garry, a tribal leader who wrestled with the cultural upheaval of white settlement, made a profound impression on Jon Osterberg as a boy growing up on a cattle ranch near Rathdrum.

A different story about Garry -- that a deteriorating and vandalized statue in his honor had been demolished and removed from Chief Garry Park in early May -- also made an impression on Osterberg, who is now a marketing and communications executive for PEMCO Insurance in Seattle.

Osterberg's co-worker Heidi Ob'bayi was in Spokane on business earlier this month when she chanced across a story in The Inlander about the demolition of the Garry statue, how the city planned to replace it with an abstract totem sculpture it got for free, and how 8-year-old Victoria Schauer thought it so important to have a statue honoring Garry in the park named for him that she donated $5 of her allowance money to build a replacement.

Ob'bayi, knowing of Osterberg's interest in Garry, carried the article to Seattle. The PEMCO officials were touched by the 8-year-old's courage and generosity.

"I read this and said this is right up PEMCO's alley," Osterberg says. "We are a homegrown company, we are familiar with the history and the culture and saw this as an opportunity for PEMCO to step up and honor one of Spokane's significant historical and cultural figures."

His pitch for involvement hit pay dirt: PEMCO is offering $10,000 for a more permanent replacement statue.

"We'd like to put this on the table as seed money," PEMCO Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Rod Brooks says. "We'd like to develop interest for other businesses to step up and take that $10,000 and somehow make it $50,000 or $60,000 or $70,000."

This initial pool of money from business, corporate or other large donors would be used as a matching fund to double donations like the $5 from the soon-to-be fourth grader Schauer.

The company has used this approach successfully in previous fundraising efforts, PEMCO officials say.

"Oh that is wonderful news," Spokane Mayor Mary Verner says. She has said the expected cost for a more permanent statue, such as a bronze, is in the range of $100,000 to $150,000. A fund-raising committee is being formed and is expected to start work in late July, she says.

Garry's great-great-great granddaughter Jeanne Givens is excited about the insurance company's involvement. "What's so positive about PEMCO's donation is it indicates there's more support out there. That you can trust people to do the right thing if given the opportunity."

Gender & Body Inclusive Clothing Swap @ Carl Maxey Center

Sat., Jan. 28, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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