The Morgan and Herr families have been friends since we met at church in 1987. Cheryl Morgan, the beloved wife of Joe, went home to be with the Lord in October 2009 after a three-year battle with cancer. Roberta Herr, the beloved wife of Norm, went home to be with the Lord in October 2010 after a three-week battle with cancer. Both Cheryl and Roberta departed this life in complete peace with God and man.
In the weeks, months, and years since the passing of our wives, we have spent much time hiking, biking and praying in the San Gabriel
and Santa Susana Mountains
. Both of our families settled in the foothills of these mountains because we wanted to be able to explore and enjoy them from our doorsteps. These mountains, which are filled with wonderful family memories, have become a sanctuary for reflection, prayer, and thanksgiving as we share our journeys of grief and gratitude.
In one of our many treks to the summit of Mission Peak
we got the idea to build a bench to honor our dear wives. We wanted to build a substantial bench that could provide seating for at least four hikers. We wanted the bench to be positioned with a sweeping panorama of the San Fernando Valley, which has been home to our families. We wanted the bench to last for generations and be an ongoing blessing for weary hikers and mountain bikers. We wanted to build a bench that would provide the community with a place for relaxation and reflection. Most of all, we wanted to build a bench that would honor our dear wives and remind others of the brevity of life, that they may focus on that which is most important. The sheer impracticality of building such a bench at the end of long, steep and winding trail motivated us. As we realized how impractical our idea was, we decided to build two benches, and thus began the search for a second location. We knew we would need the help of others in our endeavor, but this was nothing new, as any widow or widower knows.
Work began on the Mission Peak bench
in March of 2012 as a team of 25 people carried 2600 pounds of bench, concrete, water, and tools up 2.5 miles of rough trail to the summit of Mission Peak. Work on the second bench at the Wilson Canyon Overlook
began shortly thereafter and was swifter because of easier access. The benches were dedicated on Easter Sunday, 2012. It is very gratifying to receive the appreciation of the hiking and mountain-biking community, and to see that both benches are receiving frequent use. It is our hope that these benches will provide places for rest and reflection for many hikers and mountain bikers, in the years, decades, and centuries to come.