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July 8, 2014

Lockerly executive director dies

MILLEDGEVILLE — Friends and Lockerly patrons are mourning the loss of Executive Director Jim Garner, who passed away over the weekend at his home in Eatonton.

Garner served as Lockerly's executive director for six years and put forth great effort in his work, said Lockerly Arboretum Board of Trustees chairman, David Evans.

"He did a lot for Lockerly and was instrumental in revitalizing the grounds and restructuring the budget to make it more efficient."

The board of trustees along with community supporters is feeling the impact of the sudden loss.

"We are all saddened by his loss. He was a smiling face that will be missed by many," said Shawn Davis, a Lockerly Trustee.

According to Evans, Garner was well-known throughout the southeast for his horticulture work and expertise.

When hired, he brought more than 30 years of experience to the position.

He earned his degrees in horticulture from the University of Georgia and Auburn University.

He had extensive exposure to public gardens throughout North America and the United Kingdom.

Besides being a frequent contributor to gardening and trade publications, his accomplishments also included awards from the International Plant Propagators Society, and a 2005 commendation by the South Carolina House of Representatives.

Garner worked to change the image of Lockerly through renovation and expansion projects of areas throughout the grounds.

One major project that Garner is credited for is the construction of a new walkway. The new walkway was an extension of the previous walkway in front of Lockerly Hall. It leads to a picnic area, a new feature to Lockerly grounds that was added last year.

"The look of the arboretum was taken to a completely new level during his six years as executive director," Evans said.

Evans added that Garner helped shift Lockerly's image away from past misconceptions that the community may have had and restored the arboretum by providing it with a crisp, new image that was inviting to all who visited.

"He was an outstanding citizen and community leader and it will be hard to replace him," he said.

 

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