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Dynamic duo honored at bench dedication
After 30 years of giving their time and leadership to many of Yuma's philanthropic organizations, Val and John Colvin are taking a well-earned break.
This tireless duo served on more boards and held more leadership positions in local organizations than you can count on both hands. Improving Yuma through horticultural projects was their passion, and their many years of service to our community have left a lasting legacy.
To show appreciation for all the Colvins have accomplished, Yuma's four garden clubs recently dedicated a bench in their honor at the Yuma Conservation Garden. Members from local organizations, friends, relatives and the president of Arizona Federated Garden Clubs, Carol Parrott, were all on hand to honor this hard-working couple.
The bench will be used during fair week in the flower show area and then will reside in the Yuma Conservation Garden for the public to enjoy. It has a plaque reminding all who sit and rest awhile that Val and John Colvin are special people in the hearts of all garden club members and the Yuma community.
The Colvins' participation in Yuma's horticulture activities goes back several decades. Since in 1980, when Val joined Pecan Grove Garden Club, she and her husband, John, worked as a team to make a difference. Val wore so many hats in her years of service to the community that it's hard to list all of the projects she was involved in.
She served on the boards of the Laguna Natural Resource Conservation District, the Moody Garden and many other local organizations whose goals were to improve Yuma's appearance. Through the years, Val held many leadership positions in Pecan Grove Garden Club, Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma and Arizona Federation of Garden Clubs. She was also Western District director for AFGC and served as superintendent of the flower show at the Yuma County Fair for 13 years.
“Val was a tough lady to keep up with when it came to garden club activities,” said Willene Calvert, current president of Pecan Grove Garden Club. “She had so much energy and enthusiasm for whatever project she was involved in. Her knowledge and leadership skills were a true asset to our club, and she helped us complete many great civic projects.”
Sharon Jessup, member of Pecan Grove Garden Club, said, “Val was a lady of leadership. She had the ability to visualize a project, plan the steps to achieve it, and then lead our club in completing the project. She was also a master organizer and fundraiser. If we needed money to complete a project, she wrote a grant and nine times out of 10, she received it. During her years working for the Yuma community, she won over $135,000 in grants to help in the establishment or improvement of the Robert J. Moody Demonstration Garden, West Wetlands Park, the park located by the Habitat for Humanity Village, the areas surrounding Yuma's public tennis courts, various parks in town and the Yuma Conservation Garden. Val knew how to make things happen.”
Val was also interested in helping Yuma's youth.
“She started the Pecan Grove Garden Club's annual poetry and essay contest that has grown from a handful of entries to over 400 this year,” Sharon said. “Several Yuma students' poems and essays have gone on to receive state awards. She led youth horticulture workshops, publication of a children's coloring book about trees and development of many youth planting projects. She was also highly involved in our yearly Girl Scouts event where flower arrangements are made for the fair's flower show. There are many more youth projects she was a part of, but I'd better stop for now.”
John was an enthusiastic supporter of Yuma as well, and his leadership on the Yuma Conservation Garden board was instrumental in bringing the garden to fruition. He was a diligent supporter of the fair's flower show and performed many of the jobs requiring extra strength and muscle.
“John has been my biggest fan and supporter,” Val stated, “and I think we make a pretty good team.”
“Do you mean a team of horses or oxen?” John kidded. His sense of humor was always his trademark and was a welcome relief when things got stressful, especially during fair week.
While enjoying the fair this year, if you need a spot to rest for a bit, head to the tin building where the flower show is held and take a seat on Val and John's special bench. They'd love to share it with you.
Karen Bowen is a master gardener and member of Yuma Garden Club. This column is sponsored by the Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma.