SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Bill Roberts, a pillar of the Sylacauga community, received a heartwarming surprise dedication ceremony Tuesday morning, Dec. 12, at the Sam H. Wright Sylacauga Grows Community Garden as a well-deserved honor for his tireless contributions to the garden and orchard.
The event took place near the garden close to the Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement (SAFE) and brought together community leaders, friends, and well-wishers.
The ceremony began with an invocation by Tripp Dickson, setting a reflective tone for the occasion.
Mayor Jim Heigl and SAFE Executive Director Margaret Morton expressed gratitude for Bill’s remarkable commitment to the community throughout the years. Margaret shared anecdotes of Bill’s selflessness, describing him as a “giver, servant, and role model.”
Roberts, unaware of the surprise, was noticeably moved when the dedication unfolded.
Morton highlighted Bill’s multifaceted contributions, from tending the garden to landscaping for the city and its residents. Bill’s infectious positivity and humor were celebrated as the crowd listened to tales of his adventures, including encounters with bees, killer ants, and a face-off with an iron post hole digger.
Debbie Adair played a pivotal role in the dedication, unveiling permanent signs for the Sylacauga Grows Community Garden and dedicating the garden and orchard to Bill Roberts. A bench made from cedar, a gift from Pat Bivin, added a personal touch to the ceremony.
In his humble acceptance, Roberts emphasized the importance of passing on knowledge and love. He envisioned a future where others would continue the legacy of the garden by adding their names to the sign for years to come, ensuring both sustenance and education for generations ahead.
Nearing the close of her speech to the crowd that had gathered to honor Bill Roberts, Morton summed up her belief in the garden’s caretaker with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”