Posted by Philip Poole on 2009-05-08

Calling it a "noble, spectacular memorial to a godly and virtuous woman," Samford University President Andrew Westmoreland led a May 8 dedication ceremony for the new Gertha Earwood Bolding Memorial Rose Garden on the Samford campus.

The garden was a gift from Mrs. Bolding's daughter, Samford alumna Bonnie Bolding Swearingen. The terraced garden features prize-winning roses, greenery, benches and a fountain and connects Bonnie Bolding Swearingen Hall and Divinity Hall.

Saying the garden was the first of what she hoped would be several rose gardens on the campus, Swearingen encouraged the gathered crowd of family, friends and other guests to follow her example. "I hope that each of you, if you have a special occasion, to come to Samford and say that you want to plant a rose in honor of someone."

Westmoreland acknowledged Swearingen and her three sisters and said "to the degree that daughters reflect their mothers, we know that Gertha Bolding was an extraordinary lady." Bolding raised seven children and was a pastor's wife before her death in 1973.

He noted that the dedication was intentionally planned for Mother's Day weekend. "We come . . . to honor the mother of this vibrant family. In remembering Mrs. Bolding, we recall our own mother and those who nurtured us."

W. Clark Watson, chairman of Samford's board of trustees, called the garden "another major jewel in Samford crown. We will benefit from Mrs. Swearingen's vision to enhance this corner of the campus as a place of rest, reflection and inspiration."

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.