The Lady Banks roses are in bloom and are so pretty. We have two large arbors covered with them.
The Lady Banks Rose is named after the wife of botanist, Sir Joseph Banks, who was head of the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain.
I can never look at a yellow Lady Banks rose without remembering a dear friend of mine who lived in Hinesville. I visited her home many times, but never when I was in a hurry, because we both enjoyed talking about things we had in common.
I met Mrs. Ethelda Lee when she was helping with the celebration of Hinesville around 1987. Then, I was associated with her through the garden clubs. When I went to her house, she had to show me her flower garden. This was her entire yard — front, back and sides. In the front yard was a small arbor with a yellow rose all over it. This was my first time seeing one.
There were tiny paths to walk in and around the flowers, which were stuck in every inch of soil. I just loved them! She shared a lot of her plants and rain trees with me.
When inside, we talked about history, and she showed me a lot of old pictures taken in Liberty County. I think of her often and wish I could call her and ask her questions.
Ethelda was one of seven children of Oliver C. (1879-1941) and Sue Bell Caswell Darsey. Oliver was said to be one of the best criminal lawyers in southeast Georgia. He was admitted to the bar in 1912 after attending Mercer University and practiced law in Hinesville all of his life.
In 1940, he was employed by the federal government acquiring land for Camp Stewart. He was an active member of Hinesville First United Methodist Church, superintendent of the Sunday school and founder of the Hinesville Cemetery.
I knew his son, Ben Darsey, who was on the Hinesville City Council. I did not know his daughter-in-law, Faye Darsey, but certainly heard hundreds of her former students speak fondly of her and her strict classes at Bradwell Institute.
Ethelda married James M. Lee, and they had five children: James D., Lawrence, David, Carol and Dorothy.
When she was a child, she got to sit beside Henry Ford during lunch at one of Hinesville’s hotels. Ford gave her a shiny dime, which her brother tried to take from her.
She was a lifelong resident of Hinesville and part of the Methodist church. She was a member of the Ollie Darsey Sunday School Class (named after her father), Liberty County Historical Society, garden clubs and an enthusiastic member of the Cherokee Rose Country Club Golf Association. She retired from civil service at Fort Stewart.
She also liked to paint. She drew many pictures of the old Liberty County fair scenes. I bought one of her paintings of an old oak tree. I gave $1 for it framed. My son, David, liked it so much that it hung in his bedroom. After he married, he took it with him. He still has it.
Ethelda Lee spent her last months in a nursing home and passed away at age 96 on Oct. 2, 2013. With her went much history of Hinesville and Liberty County.
Each spring, I have a beautiful reminder of her when I look at the spreading branches of the beautiful yellow double-flowered Lady Banks Rose.