If you had the urge to plant flowers, rescue a homeless pup, take down a billboard or snuff out cigarettes on December 13, that may be because it was Jeanne Weigum Day in St. Paul. The City Council honored the longtime civic activist before a full house of friends and supporters. Those fans included three retired directors of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
Weigum is not retiring, but with four council members stepping down at end of the year, they wanted to honor her. The council resolution called her the “grande dame of advocacy and community building” and cited her 50-plus years of volunteerism.
Weigum may be best known for her work combatting Big Tobacco, and was named the 1997 “Minnesotan of the Year” by Minnesota Monthly. As longtime volunteer leader of the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota, Weigum was front and center in the state’s fight and St. Paul’s efforts to restrict tobacco sales.
She is a leader in the anti-billboard group Scenic Saint Paul, and worked with Friends of the Parks and Trails to get a charter amendment passed for no net loss of parkland. She has fostered many dogs and founded Pooches United with People. The South Dakota native also operates Great Plains Landscape Arboretum in Mobridge, S.D., where she plants and tests perennials, trees and shrubs.
Weigum is on the city’s Neighborhood Honor Roll as the “Summit Avenue Mystery Gardener,” as she for years has maintained gardens on the iconic street. She was also a member of the Merriam Park’s neighborhood’s Guerilla Gardeners group.
Weigum emphasized that while she has had a “good run,” she wants the incoming City Council to know that she will be back. Her upcoming fights include limits on e-cigarette litter and combatting another billboard, this one proposed at Highway 280 and Interstate 94.