Every alphabetical list of the nearly 3,000 victims from the 9/11 attacks starts with the name Gordon Aamoth, Jr. Now, the family of Wayzata local Gordy Aamoth—along with the rest of the Wayzata community—will have a place to honor the lives lost and reflect on the courageous actions of first responders in the wake of that tragedy.
“We didn’t want the memorial to just be dedicated to Gordy,” says Erik Aamoth, Aamoth’s brother. “We understand, as a Wayzata resident, he’s going to be mentioned, but we wanted it to be dedicated to all the victims [and] the first responders and for it to be a community memorial.”
Aamoth worked at Sandler O’Neill + Partners and was on the 104th floor when the World Trade Center’s south tower collapsed. But while his loss was felt most acutely by his family and loved ones, Erik says the loss was felt by everyone. “My experience over the past 20 years is that the communities are impacted; everybody’s impacted,” he says. “And so that was really important to us—that we have it be focused on the community and all the different people, who were impacted by the attack.”
The Aamoth family donated some of the artifacts it had received from Ground Zero to the City of Wayzata. At the time, the city had yet to form any concrete plans for a 9/11 memorial, but, in 2020, construction on the new Panoway Park off of Lake Street rekindled conversation about the project.
Andrew Mullin, the executive director of the Wayzata Conservancy, says this new park sparked the design process for the memorial. “It is two large pieces of granite—they’re one nine-hundredths the size of each fallen tower from the World Trade Center—set in a birch grove of nine trees, symbolizing nine and 11,” Mullin says.
These two granite plinths will lay on their sides, offering visitors a quiet space for contemplation and remembrance. One of the plinths will have a piece of iron, a piece of steel and a piece of stone from Ground Zero, donated by the Aamoth family. The other plinth will feature a series of flags, which will be flown in remembrance every September 11 from sunrise to sunset.
Money for the memorial was raised by the Wayzata Conservancy. “Many, many community members stepped forward to donate money,” Mullin says.
The conservancy was also mindful to include the Aamoth family on the design process, and multiple family members contributed and collaborated on the memorial’s design. Peter Aamoth, Aamoth’s younger brother, is an architect with the Minneapolis firm James Dayton Design and collaborated on the technical aspects of the memorial, while Aamoth’s mother, Mary Aamoth, focused on the aesthetics of the memorial.
“When we first heard about [plans for the memorial], we were really pretty humbled about it,” Erik says. “To have the city put the effort in that they’re putting in, not only on behalf of Gordy but the other victims, we were pretty pleased that they were thinking about it, and we appreciated them involving us in this process.”
The memorial will be unveiled tentatively on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 at the Panoway on Wayzata, 681 Lake St. S.E., Wayzata. Up-to-date information is available at wayzataconservancy.org.