At 82 years old, Loretta Kleczka is full of spunk and wit.
But it is the Greenfield business owner’s caring and generosity that forged an unbreakable bond between her and the city.
That bond grew from an unlikely place—her family’s love for miniature golf. They had no place to play mini-golf other than Willow’s on 27th Street. So in 1994 Kleczka and her late husband purchased land just went of , and built . They had a course of their own, plus batting cages and an entertainment room.
“I must have been nutty, to want to build a golf course,” said Kleczka, who also owns the strip mall at 60th Street and Layton Avenue in Greenfield.
That nutty idea of a golf course, however, has grown into a popular hot spot for families, teens and young couples in and around Greenfield. Kleczka’s generosity has also turned it into the stage for one of the Greenfield Parks and Recreation Department’s largest annual fundraisers.
For the past 14 years, the Greenfield Partners of Parks and Recreation has held a mini-golf fundraising tournament at River Falls. Kleczka closes the center’s doors to the public that day, to allow the non-profit organization free run of the facility—and she charges no use fees to the organization.
“I was brought up with meager parents and they taught me to give back,” Kleczka said. “They gave me everything they had, which was a lot more than they could afford. I was taught to appreciate what I have and always give back.”
Because of Kleczka’s generosity, the golf tournament has raised more than $70,000 since its inception in 1997. If she charged the listed rate of greens fees and for the event to be private, said Parks and Recreation Director Scott Jaquish, it would have cost about $10,000—nearly 15 percent of the total proceeds.
“If we’re not paying to golf there, that’s all revenue that can go back to the Partners of the Park,” Jaquish said. “Since day one, she has been on board as far as graciously letting us use the facility, no questions asked with no fees and open arms.”
This summer, Kleczka put an extra cherry on top, unexpectedly handing the non-profit organization to be used for the city’s new community center.
“That’s the only way to go,” Kleczka said. “When you have a good association with somebody, you keep it going and you respect it. … God has been very good to me and I have to give back. I give back to the church and the other thing I’m associated with is Greenfield. They belong to me and I belong to me. We help each other.”
Money raised by the Partners of Parks and Recreation—including that raised through the golf tournament—has been used to purchase a new park signs, flowers and trees and replacement picnic tables, among other things. Last year, the non-profit organization made a $10,000 donation to the renovation of the community center.
Jaquish said Kleczka’s special gift of $2,500 could go toward upgrading the community center’s sound system, or be used to purchase round banquet tables or chairs.
The department gave Kleczka a small token of appreciation in February for all she has done, giving her the department’s Special Service Award.
“There’s no one else like her,” Jaquish said. “And Greenfield is lucky to have her as a business owner in our community. I think she’s a great example, a challenge to other business owners. When you see a need, fill a need. Loretta has been great at doing that.”