Monarch's Heavenly Journey

Monarch’s Heavenly Journey:

The sculpture, “Monarch’s Heavenly Journey”, is an original custom design commissioned by the Rob Kilo family, created by sculptor Glory Hartsfield. The sculpture is in memory of Rob's mother, June Kilo. The sculpture features a four-sided steel ornate trellis in the shape of an obelisk, symbolizing eternity and immortality, representing a connection to Heaven and earth. The trellis is painted yellow to symbolize native pollinators. ‘June Kilo’ is written out on one side using steel rods, from top to bottom sideways, and the other three sides include swirling whimsical curlicues.  In memory of June, the nine feet height of the sculpture was chosen due to numerology of the number nine representing ‘compassionate, generous, and selfless'.

Rob’s late Mother, affectionately known as Grammie June to her grandchildren, loved birds and butterflies, especially the Monarch butterfly. There is a large, vibrant Monarch butterfly resting on top of the obelisk, facing North, symbolically emerging from its winter hibernation in the mountains of Mexico and embarking on its northward journey across the United States. This is the Monarch’s migration representing its ‘heavenly journey'.

The sculpture is on a tall, round pedestal, painted an earthen brown color, symbolizing the Monarch sculpture emerging from the ground and rising toward Heaven. This sculpture is installed where the Riparian Trail extension exits Burkhardt Place and heads toward the Central Park loop trail, adjacent to the west side of the Chesterfield Family YMCA. 

Monarch Grove:

Monarch Grove is a collaboration and partnership with the Rob Kilo family, the City of Chesterfield, and the Chesterfield Family YMCA.  Monarch Grove, including Monarch’s Heavenly Journey, serves as a meeting place, reflection area, and midway trailhead for Chesterfield's Riparian Trail extension.

In 2018, Rob spearheaded the concept of creating Monarch Grove as part of Chesterfield’s Riparian Trail and Central Park. He worked with Chesterfield’s PRACAC committee, Parks Committee of Council, and Chesterfield City Council for all approvals.  After five years of grit and tenacity working through City processes and unexpected setbacks, the Rob Kilo family followed through on their commitment in 2022 supporting the full build out of Monarch Grove. 

Monarch's Heavenly Journey is located in Central Park’s Monarch Grove, including numerous native pollinator community gardens. Monarch Grove has two custom designed ‘Cardinal red' metal art benches, featuring a flowers design, which face the sculpture and lake. Cardinals, which were a favorite of June's, have long symbolized a loved one who has passed away. Some believe that the Cardinal is their loved one, returning for a visit, while others see the Cardinal as a reminder of their dearly departed one.

Monarch Grove is registered and recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), and as a 'Monarch Waystation' to reinforce the need to sustain Monarch butterflies by providing milkweed, nectar sources, and nearby shelter. Native plants provide a multitude of ecosystem benefits for local wildlife and pollinators. 


Monarch Grove design:

  • Commissioned and custom designed 9’ Monarch Butterfly sculpture.  

  • Two custom designed 'Cardinal red' metal art benches. The flower design along the bench backs represent eternal flowers so that even during the garden’s dormant winter months, Monarch Grove will always have ‘blooming flowers'.

  • Pollinator garden beds designed to look like a side profile of a Monarch Butterfly facing the lake. There is an ‘upper wing’ garden bed, ‘lower wing’ garden bed, and a large boulder representing the butterfly’s body.

  • Three wide crushed gravel paths to accommodate two people side by side, such as those walking with children, walking with a support dog, or pushing a stroller.  

  • Native tree selection including Wildfire Black Gums and a Cherokee Brave Dogwood.  

  • Numerous native perennial pollinator plants including lots of Milkweed. ‘Milkweed Row’ runs between the black fence and retaining wall and ends with a large butterfly wing shaped boulder that has a heart shape in its front façade. 

  • Seating includes 2 metal six foot art benches, 4 hand selected natural boulders, and an ADA compliant, wheelchair accessible red picnic table that accommodates a wheelchair at either end.  

  • Bee themed shepherd’s hook holds two bird suet feeders, including one in the design of a Monarch butterfly.

  • Natural boulders, acquired from Earthworks, selected to be able to sit/lean on them and view Monarch Grove or the Central Park lake. 

  • Included input for inclusion and adaptive family-friendly environment. ADA wheelchair space, including boulder tables, created near the sculpture.

  • Registered as a Monarch Waystation through Monarch Watch. There were over 50 Monarch caterpillars counted in its inaugural year. 

  • Registered as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).

Monarch Grove Lakeside:

Created in late 2023, it is a City Parks expansion of Monarch Grove designed and led by the Rob Kilo family. This additional mental health zone provides more seating and allows park-goers the opportunity to relax and reflect with a beautiful lakeside view. 

The red metal art bench, featuring a pair of Cardinals, was custom designed specifically for the Rob Kilo family. The bench is in honor of Rob’s wife’s mother, Rita, and her husband Fred Denny. The six foot bench was placed with an unparalleled panoramic view of the lake, including the fountain, iconic gazebo bridge, and forest landscape, with peripheral vision only of the lake’s beauty. 

The large cobalt black granite boulder, acquired from Earthworks, provides a sharp color contrast to the Cardinal red bench and flagstone, and serves as a seat or table. The bench ground area includes decorative flagstone, broken from three very large flagstone pieces acquired for Monarch Grove, that are spaced apart creating a mosaic effect within the crushed gravel area, encased within a metal edging border.  Under the actual bench are flagstones designed to resemble a bird taking flight.  The crushed gravel area with decorative flagstones was purposefully designed to be expansive to accommodate small kids, dogs, strollers, etc. to keep them off the grass and/or wet and muddy areas.  

A large native ‘Green Gables’ Black Gum tree was added to provide symmetry to the existing Sycamore tree. The Black Gum tree will grow eventually to help provide afternoon shade. A red recycled-plastic birdhouse, too heavy for the new tree, was added on a 9’ Shepard’s hook. This birdhouse will likely attract wrens, chickadees and warblers.

The gazebo birdhouse, from a woman-owned U.S. business, which mirrors the iconic gazebo on the Central Park lake bridge, was added to provide nesting shelter for area birds. A new Bluebird house, approved by the North American Bluebird Society, made in the USA from recycled milk jugs, replaced the aged nesting box on the Sycamore tree.  The Bluebird house roof was painted red to match the Cardinal red theme, that also ties into the two Cardinal red benches of Monarch Grove.  Decorative metal tree rings, including red color mulch, was added to both trees to enhance soil and water conservation.

In December 2023, a private family gathering marked the completion and public opening of Monarch Grove Lakeside. Monarch Grove Lakeside, with the amenities described above, is registered and recognized as another Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). 

History of Monarch Grove and Monarch’s Heavenly Journey:

The City of Chesterfield hosted a community ribbon cutting ceremony and unveiled the new public art installation, “Monarch’s Heavenly Journey,” along with Monarch Grove, on Friday, May 12, 2023.  This new larger community pocket park area, known as Monarch Grove, was funded by the Rob Kilo Family, in collaboration and partnership with the City of Chesterfield and the Chesterfield Family YMCA.  Mayor Bob Nation, Ascension Catholic Church Pastor Thomas Molini, and Rob Kilo spoke at the ceremony. The event was attended by City Council, Chesterfield Family YMCA, Chesterfield Regional Chamber, civic leaders, community, friends and family. The event took place on the Friday prior to Mother's Day, which is a celebration honoring mothers and their influence in society. 

Mary Ann Mastorakos, City Council member who served on the City’s Parks Council, stated that the sculpture will be a great addition to our Chesterfield Parks and highlight our commitment to helping pollinators. 

Chesterfield’s Mayor Bob Nation signed his fifth Mayor’s Monarch Pledge Proclamation encouraging all members of our community, especially families, to help our migrating Monarch butterflies and pollinators.  Planting native wildflower gardens is one of the best ways to help pollinators by providing food, water, cover, and a place to raise young to enhance quality nature for our Chesterfield community.

Jennifer Mullix, Director of the Butterfly House, was excited about the new addition, and shared, "Community gardens, like Monarch Grove, are creating wonderful habitats while also helping to raise awareness of how we can all support monarchs, butterflies, and other pollinators.”  Rob registered Monarch Grove as a 'Monarch Waystation' to reinforce the need to sustain Monarch butterflies by providing milkweed, nectar sources, and nearby shelter.  Monarch Grove has the distinction of being registered and recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). 

Mayor Bob Nation issued a Mayor’s Proclamation by the City of Chesterfield declaring June 19th as the Rob Kilo Family day in memory of Grammie June Kilo, whose birthday is June 19th. Monarch Grove represents a wonderful addition to Chesterfield and the broader community as a positive mental health area, community pollinator gardens, and a place to meet or relax overlooking Central Park.  This is a significant contribution to not only Chesterfield, but also to the entire broader community Parks system. 

About the Rob Kilo family:

Rob & Kathy Kilo, born and raised in St. Louis, have lived in Chesterfield for 18 years.  Their daughter, Caroline, graduated from Marquette High School and is a Junior at the University of Arkansas, and their son, Niko, graduated from Marquette High School and is a Freshman at Indiana University.  Rob Kilo serves as a Ward IV Committee member, and past Co-Chair, on the Chesterfield Parks, Recreation, and Arts Citizens Advisory Committee (PRACAC). Rob also serves on the Chesterfield Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee (CCEAC).  Rob is an active member in the community, frequent attendee of City Council meetings and Chesterfield events, and involved in numerous community organizations. In addition, the Kilo family’s backyard, which includes a pollinator garden in his mother’s memory, is recognized as a Certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). In memory of his Mother, Rob traveled with Natural Habitat Adventures to witness the Monarch butterfly migration in Mexico.  

The Kilo family also supported the expansion of the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House’s Entomology Lab in “Grammie June’s” memory.  In 2023, the Kilo family placed a sculpture entitled, “Heavenly Connection: Young Woman with Cherub” at the Butterfly House, including renovating a section in the Butterfly House outdoor Native Garden for the sculpture, which is in memory of Grammie June Kilo and Great Gram Esther Grebe. 

About the Sculptor Glory Hartsfield:

Glory Hartsfield is a multimedia artist with an affinity for metalwork in Stella, Missouri. She was excited to hear from the Kilo family who was inspired by her previous Monarch sculpture, “The Portal to Metamorphosis,” to create and commission a new Monarch butterfly sculpture in their Mom’s memory. Glory's sculptures include: “Portal to Metamorphosis” on display in Sunset Hills beside their City Hall, “Retro Floral Renovation” on display in Maryland Heights in Quiet Hollow Park, and “Symbiosis” on display in Creve Coeur in LaVerne Collins Park.

About Chesterfield Parks:

The Chesterfield Parks, Recreation & Arts Department is accredited from the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA), and only one of only 192 park and recreation agencies accredited, and only one of five in the state of Missouri. Chesterfield is the first and only National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Community Wildlife Habitat in Missouri. Chesterfield has over 500 acres of developed parkland and over 16 miles of trails. The Riparian Trail is a crushed stone, boardwalk, and paved trail that meanders through the woods, along Chesterfield Creek, and the Chesterfield Central Park lake and trail.  The Riparian Trail extension begins at August Hill Drive, heads north through Central Park, continues across Wild Horse Creek Road and terminates at Old Chesterfield Road.  The Riparian trail is part of a five-phase plan to construct a pedestrian and bike path which begins near the Chesterfield Family Aquatic Center and will extend to Old Chesterfield Road and eventually connecting to the Monarch-Chesterfield Levee Trail. The Rob Kilo family collaborated with the City of Chesterfield and Chesterfield Family YMCA to enhance the Riparian Trail with the addition of Monarch Grove and Monarch Grove Lakeside.