Instead of buying something for himself or putting it in a savings account for a car or college in the future, Owen decided he wanted to create a special memorial bench in remembrance of his second-cousin Tiffany Tietz. She died in a car accident in 2022 but always loved showing goats at the fair and helping younger 4-H members learn about goats and showing animals.
With unanimous approval and support from the fair board, this summer Owen placed the bench near the entrance to the goat barn where it will be every fair week. Owen is now a sixth grader at Thornapple Kellogg Middle School and said he’s really happy that he’s been able to do something for Tiffany, her family and everyone who knew her.
With help from his dad, Jason, the two designed the bench featuring a picture of a Boer goat, a breed which Tiffany and her family helped introduce at the Barry County Fair. The bench reads “In Loving Memory of Tiffany Tietz” surrounded by outlines of sunflowers. It also adds the 4-H clover emblem.
“She was one of my Mom’s best friends and my Dad’s cousins. She was always very nice to me and I really loved her. She was really good at showing goats,” he said.
Tiffany’s dad, Gary, gave him his first goat to show at the fair and even helped bid up the price at the livestock auction. “It was really nice of him to give me the goat so when I sold it, I just wanted to do something nice for him and everybody to remember Tiffany. When I told my mom and dad what I wanted to do they were both really happy and I’m really happy too.”
The family clipped a dedication message to the bench, so everyone knew its significance. The page included a picture of Owen and his Dad on the bench in front of a field of sunflowers. This is what it said in part:
“4-H means different things to different people. It stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. We’ve all quoted the pledge: 'I pledge my head for clearer thinking, my heart for greater loyalty, my hands for larger service and my health for better living for my club, my community, my country and my world.' Nothing embodies that pledge better than this bench or rather the heart behind it. It was dreamed of and designed by Owen Teitz, just beginning his 4-H career, in memory of his cousin Tiffany, who was a very integral part of the Barry County Fair for years…So come and sit a spell. Relax and enjoy the Fair and help us honor our daughter, mother, niece, friend and cousin - Tiffany. And remember the 4-H’s and let’s put them into action, just like Owen did.”
Owen smiles when he talks about the bench and the fair. “I love being in 4-H. I’ve made a lot of new friends; I love fair food and I love going on rides. I also really love showing the animals. And now, I’m going to feel really good about seeing the bench there every year during the fair. I’ll always remember Tiffany and I’m hoping other people will remember her too. Every year at the fair she will be right there with us.”