The Richmond Hill Garden Club honored its founder, Frances Meeks, who began the club 60 years ago. On March 9, the club dedicated a founder’s bench that will be placed in the Henderson Park garden.
If you think one person cannot make a difference, then you need to meet Meeks. Since moving here in 1954, she has shown countless ways to make a difference in this world, and no single story could possibly cover all the ways she marked Richmond Hill.
A June 14, 2007, article by Ross Blair of Bryan County News, "Love of children, a passion for flowers," covers many of the jobs she has held with Bryan County Schools — teacher of every grade, assistant principal, principal, administrator. The Congressional Record, Volume 142, No. 9 (Jan. 24, 1996) also has a tribute from then-U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, including being named first lady of Bryan County Schools.
Meeks said it was her job to take care of children first by always doing what is right, even when it is not popular. She inspired children’s minds. Her vision stretched their imaginations and enlarged their hopes.
Her second great love, after teaching children, is gardening. She organized a youth garden club, teaching her students how to plant and maintain flowers. In fall 1955, she and Frances Green, a close friend and nationally accredited flower show judge, enlisted the Methodist women’s group and the female school faculty members to form the community’s first garden club. They met in each other’s homes and began holding classes on flower arranging and hosting flower shows.
"Everywhere, there is something of beauty you can focus on," Meeks said.
She taught people to discover and develop common goals and opportunities and how to work together.
For many years, she wrote a column for the Bryan County News, covering garden club activities and education, as well as community news. Many of her projects are still thriving and benefiting our environment, such as the bird sanctuary in the county.
Meeks said she does not dwell on the past. Her eyes are on the future.
"We can expect change, but not all change is progressive," she said.
Thus she speaks up about things dear to her heart. In public education, she would like to see students taught more of what she calls "grocery store" math — practical lessons on how to budget, manage money, avoid debt, etc. She encourages reading for everyone. She advises gardeners to rediscover the joys of flower arranging.
Her advice: "Bloom where you are planted."
Editor’s note: This column was submitted by the Richmond Hill Garden Club.