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The Sevierville Garden Club

                                                  Celebrating 30 Years

                        The Sevierville Garden Club (SGC) was founded January 6, 1988, by members of the
                 community  concerned  about  the  need  for  beautification  of  the  Sevier  County  area.  Mayor
                 Charlie Johnson urged the formation of the club, seeing the need for beautifying areas beyond
                 downtown, and observing the impact that the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Garden Clubs had
                 on their cities. “I have a list of goals and objectives that I will present to Ruby [Fox] so she
                 can work with her group on how to accomplish them,” he said. “The main idea is developing
                 community  pride.  To  do  that  I  would  like  to  see  a  large  cross-section  of  the  community
                 involved.” (Mountain Press, January 11, 1988)
                        The club met for the first twelve years in the balcony of the Community Center, which
                 is now the fitness center. Many charter members were business owners and others involved in
                 the development of a city now faced with a growing tourism industry.
                        Ruby  Fox  was  elected  the  temporary  chairman  at  the  first  meeting,  which  had  28
                 people  in  attendance,  including  Ms.  Fox,  Annette  Carpenter,  Alma  Curtis,  Aileen  Fowler,
                 Daniel Green, Glenda Johnson, Ray Johnson, Doyle Jones, Bob Loy, Marye Loy, Pat Maher-
                 Sonner, Willie Kate Murphy, Frances Ostergren, Bob Parker, Jane Rader, Rowena Schmutzer,
                 Ann Stubblefield, Kate Wade, and Geneva Waters.
                        Ms.  Fox  was  subsequently  elected  the  first  president,  with  other  board  members
                 elected Vice-President Pat Maher-Sonner, Secretary Annette Carpenter,  and Treasurer Jane
                 Rader.  Recently  retired  from  the  Sevierville  Chamber  of  Commerce,  Ms.  Fox  had  the
                 knowledge, energy and contacts to get projects going for the new club. Within ten months of
                 its conception, the SGC had written its mission, set dues and sponsorships, adopted by-laws,
                 designated  the  iris  as  its  official  logo,  and  started  several  beautification  and  historic
                 preservation projects. Their vision was to make Sevierville the prettiest city in Tennessee. By
                 fall the SGC recorded 75 charter members, 5 sponsors and 2 associates.
                        The  first  projects  included  the  beautification  of  the  Sevier  County  Courthouse  and
                 preservation of the McMahan Indian Mound. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were engaged to
                 help pick up litter downtown. John Walker donated hundreds  of irises which were planted
                 around  the  city.  It  was  hoped  that  other  business  and  homeowners  would  join  in  to  make
                 Sevierville  the  Iris  Capital  of  the  South.  Flower  containers  were  planted  around  the
                 courthouse  and  in  front  of  the  businesses  downtown,  which  the  club  members  diligently
                 tended  to  by  watering  each  week.  The  club  held  a  neighborhood  beautification  contest.
                 Dollywood donated tickets for the entire winning neighborhood. The club participated in the
                 city’s Music and Arts Festival, the Apple Festival, and the Holiday Fair.
                        The  club  planted  three  trees  at  the  Community  Center  to  honor  Ruby  Fox,  John
                 Walker, and Charlie Johnson, the mayor of Sevierville. This was the beginning of their long
                 continuing relationship with trees. Bob Parker, the current Director of the Parks & Recreation
                 Department, was at the first meeting and reports that “…the Sevierville Garden Club was a



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