Babbette Jaquish, known as the “Sunflower Lady” in her Eau Claire, Wisconsin community, died last November after a long battle with cancer.
After her death, her husband Don Jaquish, a cash grain farmer, decided to fulfill one of her dreams by planting a 4-mile stretch of sunflowers, or 400 acres of the brilliant, happy yellow flowers, and started a company, “Babbette’s Seeds of Hope,” to raise money for cancer research.
It took Jaquish a week that plant the sunflowers that line Wisconsin’s Highway 85 in Eau Claire, this past June. Whatever land wasn’t his, neighbors rented to him for a reasonable price. After a 75-day growing period, they finally bloomed this month.
Jaquish told ABC News, “She got to be known as the sunflower lady of the community. So after she passed away, I thought it would be a tribute to her to plant 4.5 miles of sunflowers on each side of Highway 85.
“She realized the importance of research in clinical trials. She went from being expected live two weeks to two months to nine years. Her attitude was everyday I can stay alive I’m one day closer to a cure. Unfortunately her health just kept declining over the years, and it got to be too much to start and operate a business when she was so sick.”
He gushingly added, “Everyone that ever met Babbette fell in love with her. I was just lucky enough to be the guy that she fell in love with.”
Babbette’s daughter, Jenny White, remarked, “They were very much in love with each other. My mom would have done anything for him and he would have done anything for her.”
Babette was diagnosed in 2006 with multiple myeloma – at that time, they planted several hundred acres of sunflowers around their property, and a few years later, she came up with the idea to raise sunflowers and sell the seeds in part to benefit cancer research.
Unfortunately, due to her declining health, it became too much to start and operate a business, her daughter added.
Jaquish explained, “She realized the importance of research in clinical trials. She went from being expected live two weeks to two months to nine years. Her attitude was everyday I can stay alive I’m one day closer to a cure.”
One month after Babbette passed away on Nov. 17, 2014, Jaquish and White made Babbette’s dream come true by starting Babbette’s Seeds of Hope.