Letter to the Editor: A Tribute to a Man and His Garden

A member of American Legion Post 160 pays tribute to a man he only know through his garden.


I never had the privilege of either meeting or knowing the man. I never knew his name until this Saturday morning while returning from my usual attendance at the monthly country breakfast, . However, as with countless others within Cobb County, I well knew and have admired his garden for many years.

Anyone over the last twenty years who has ever traveled or traversed Church Road to and from South Cobb Drive, Smyrna, Georgia, knows of this man’s garden. One could not help but notice and gaze upon this sizable plot of land surrounded by thick woods upon which stood a grand tribute to gardening the old fashion way.

There stately stood planted rows of every type vegetable to include tomatoes, stalks of corn, and okra. There was an undeniable symmetry of design and purpose, clearly reflecting someone’s dedicated toil and sweat to create from the earth to bring forth a harvest of plenty. Someone had tilled and prepared this soil the year round no doubt with great affection and love. Seeds of quality had been chosen, planted, and then nurtured from meager sprouts to full grown mature plants for harvest and the Lord willing, a time of plenty. Since there are no apparent water resources or evidence of specialized modern garden equipment of any kind all indications pointed to creations by human hand.

I always wondered as to the identity of this gifted gardener that had so tirelessly created this planting masterpiece so robust of fruits and produce? There had been a few rare occasions when passing when I happened to notice a mature gentleman of years weeding or working the land. I kept saying to myself that I must stop or pull over on the limited grassy road shoulder to meet and learn more about this esteemed gardener.

Unfortunately for me, the perceived press of reaching some other destination or purpose would always postpone for another time or day. Sadly for me the opportunity was to pass unfilled forever. On Saturday morning, I found instead a large wreath of flowers in small tribute to this man and his garden. I would have the privilege instead to meet his daughter, who with her mother, was now working by hand to fulfill her father’s desires for this year’s garden – to perpetuate for at least one more year the garden he so loved.

Only then did I learn his identity:

Mr. Roy L. Hall age 81 of Smyrna, passed away Monday, April 9th. Funeral services will be held 11:00 A.M. Thursday, April 12th at Carmichael Funeral Home Chapel in Smyrna with Rev. Dawn Britt officiating. Internment will be in the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton. A native of Sand Mountain, AL. Mr. Hall had been a longtime resident of Cobb County. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict. He was employed by Lockheed as a Supervisor for over 42 years before retiring. He was a longtime member of Tillman United Methodist Church. Roy had a garden on Church Rd., in Smyrna for over 20 years and was known throughout the community for his outstanding produce. People came from far and wide to take his tomatoes back to their homes around the country.

Obituary, Marietta Daily Journal, April 9, 2012

Though I never met or knew Roy L. Hall, both I and my Mom (a local resident of 91 years young who had passed this garden almost daily for the last twenty years), not to mention countless others in Cobb County, knew and admired his garden. Such the pity since Mr. Hall and I had quite a lot in common (e.g., a love and appreciation for working the soil to produce from one’s own labors, feeling and being imbued within all aspects of Nature, and both being veterans of military service during a time of war). As shared by his daughter, that as well included being members of Smyrna American Legion Post # 160 (Concord Road) and both enjoying their monthly early morning country breakfast events.

Roy Hall left a legacy and memory engrained in countless souls throughout Cobb County – the commanding architecture and beauty of his annual garden. By his labors of love and gardening expressions he would stimulate and touch innumerable metaphors, analogies, and seeds for thought among us all.

What greater tribute to a man than his creations within this garden?

Within a religious context, mankind itself was created and sprang from the Hands of God within Garden of Eden. It was within the Garden of  Gethsemane that Jesus would be transformed According to the Eastern Orthodox Church tradition, Gethsemane is the garden where the Virgin Mary was buried and was assumed into heaven after her dormition on Mount Zion. The Garden of Gethsemane became a focal site for early Christian pilgrims which continues to this very day.

The very foundations of this country and our noble traditions emanate from men of the land, who planted, and harvested. Their restored homes and gardens are lasting tributes to those special men, their ideals, and grace achieved from working and being part of the land: e.g., George Washington (Mount Vernon); Thomas Jefferson (Monticello); James Madison (Montpelier); James Monroe (Ash-lawn Highland).

Roy Hall was a father, husband, a military veteran who served his country in time of war, and a gardener who has touched so many in so many ways. Such is a shining legacy for which his family, friends, and admirers should all be proud for it endures time itself being implanted in our memories to again be shared with so many others.

Such is my humble tribute to a man I never knew. I only knew his garden. Perhaps we all should ponder how our garden grows? One thing is certain. Roy Hall and his garden have left positive legacies for all of us. May the Lord bless and keep Roy Hall and his surviving family.  

Woody Wollesen

Marietta, GA

Do you have memories of Roy Hall and his garden? Share them in the comments below.

teresa teasley April 18, 2012 at 03:16 AM
I was brought to tears when I saw the wreath of flowers. 'The garden was the brightspot in my daily commute to work and back for the last 10 years. Roy touched the lives of so many people he never even met. Thanks Roy for the beautiful garden. There will never be another one like it. TT
Woodrow Wollesen April 18, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Thank you - It was my personal honor and privilege to be able to humbly pen my thoughts respecting the garden and your grandfather, especially given his veteran status and membership at Post # 160 American Legion. I would have personally forwarded to his daughter and widow but lacked an e-mail address. Sending my best, Woody Wollesen execunet@charter.net
Abby April 19, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Thank you so much for this piece!! I am one of Roy Hall's grandaughter's. My mother, who was working in the garden, and grandmother have read this article and appreciate it immensely. His garden was so dear to him, and knowing that all these people appreciated it is such an amazing thing to hear. Thank you for this article! I know he would appreciate this immensely!
smyrna parent April 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM
My daughter and I loved watching this garden grow each year...and it inspired us, now we are gardeners too! Our thoughts go to Mr. Hall's family.
G. Singleton April 20, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I always called him "Paw-Paw". I stopped many years ago to talk and get some garden advise and he always was the nicest man- never met a stranger. I wondered if the garden was just for his family, but he said "Come on down to the house and I'll show you my tomatoes". I met his family and now have become friends with them too. He did sell me some tomatoes but he gave me beans, potatoes, corn and sweet potatoes as well. He had a heart as big as a his garden and loved to tell stories of when he was a cotton farmer. He even has a cotton plant growing in his vegetable garden just to remind him of his roots. His wife and children and grandchildren will miss him dearly and try to keep his garden going as much as they are able but we, his friends, will miss the kind-hearted, laughing, story telling, throw up your hand and wave man we all knew as "Paw-Paw"


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