Georgia Arbor Day was celebrated Feb. 16 with some local organizations commemorating the day with tree plantings.
The Georgia Forestry Commission presented the Liberty County Recreation Department with five sawtooth oaks at James Brown Park. The trees are to be planted in county parks.
The sawtooth oak, deriving its name from the sawtooth-edged leaves it produces, is one of the fastest growing trees in its youth, providing shade in the summer and yellow to golden brown leaves in the fall.
Also, the Morning Glory Garden Club planted three Japanese maple trees (Acer Palmatum Bloodgood) at Main Street Park in memory of three of their members' husbands who have died. OMI workers assisted with the plantings. Those honored include:
• Lt. (retired) William T., “Bill” Verross April 14, 1927-Sept. 7, 2006
Verross was the first vice president and general manager of Interstate Paper Corporation in Riceboro. Every aspect of design, construction and start-up of the new paper mill reportedly took place under his watch. The mill was one of the largest employers in Liberty County and started making paper in 1968. Verross was elected chairman of the Liberty County Hospital Authority and served in that capacity for 12 years. Verross also served as a member of the Hinesville Bank board of directors (now known as the Heritage Bank). He was also active in the First Presbyterian Church in Hinesville and was named an elder emeritus of the church in 2000. He was also named chairman of the Liberty County Industrial Authority. Verross was an avid golfer and was the driving force behind the establishment of the Cherokee Rose Country Club and Golf Course in Hinesville. For this accomplishment, he was awarded a lifetime membership at Cherokee Rose in 1993. Lt. Bill Verross wed Lt. Marjorie Cottier in Sept. 1946. Later both lieutenants were discharged from the Army, she in 1945 and Verross in 1946. They have three sons, Dr. William Verross, Thomas Verross and Robert Verross; and one daughter, Victoria Devine; and three grandsons.
• Col. (retired) George Rogers, May 20, 1917-Aug. 27, 2006
Rogers served 32 years in the U.S. Army as an aviator and artilleryman. He was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. His last position was deputy center commander of the Fort Stewart/Hunter Complex. After retirement from the military, he worked for the Coastal Telephone Company in Hinesville. He was an elder emeritus of the First Presbyterian Church in Hinesville. Rogers was very proud of all the historical places and notations of interest in Liberty County and served on the board of the LeCounte-Woodmanston Plantation Foundation, the Midway Museum Society and the Georgia Heritage Trust. He married Sara Baker and they were together for 60 years. They had three daughters, Pamela Tinsley, Patricia Sims and Peggy Rose, and 10 grandchildren.
• Charles Stewart Feb. 7, 1928-July 7, 2005
Stewart moved to Liberty County in Oct. 1967 to work with Interstate Paper Corporation. He was tasked with hiring the maintenance and engineering supervisors, engineers, hourly employees and setting up the storeroom. Due to his previous experience working in the paper mills of Tennessee and South Carolina, Stewart helped to start the Interstate Paper Corp. Credit Union and served as a labor negotiator for the mill employees. Stewart was later named the engineering and maintenance manager for Interstate Paper. Stewart was a men's Sunday school teacher and was ordained deacon of First Baptist Church in Hinesville, where he played a part in the development of their Sanctuary Building Fund of First Baptist. He was a large contributor to local charitable organizations and political drives. He was president of the Lion’s Club from 1973-74 and was a charter member of the Cherokee Rose Country Club for a number of years. Stewart was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1950, and then served five years for the National Guard retiring as a sergeant first class.
In 1950, he married Louise Powell and together they have three children, Sheila Leach, Alice Hutchinson and Glenn Stewart; and six grandchildren.
The Morning Glory Garden Club was founded around 1952 and is under the Garden Club of Georgia, Inc. The local club is part of the Oleander District that covers 21 counties in the Southeast portion of Georgia. They are active in community events and contributions, and helped to place the Blue Star Memorial Marker at one of the entrances to Fort Stewart. They contribute to the LeCounte Woodmanston Plantation Foundation and several scholarship funds through the Garden Club of Georgia and The National Garden Club, Inc. The hope to build a garden club center in Hinesville.
Louise Stewart contributed to this story.