Sometimes, if you are very lucky, you have the chance to meet folks who make you proud if they call you a friend.
Tom and Kay Mills are that kind of people, and Augusta was very, very lucky to have had them as friends and residents for many years.
Those who have lived in Augusta 20 years or more know the sad state that befell Pendleton King Park. Folks say it became a seedy, dangerous place that children needed to avoid.
Now, Pendleton King Park is just the opposite, thanks in large degrees to Kay and Tom.
The beautiful gardens, the safe playgrounds, the landscaping, the metal artwork, the boardwalk in the wetlands area, the Bark Park – all came from their imagination and determination.
It started with Kay’s master gardener’s project more than a decade ago when she proposed a plant swap to raise money for improvements at Pendleton King Park.
In the beginning, the annual Plant Swap was just a few master gardeners swapping plants. Last year, the master gardeners raised $2,004 – that’s by selling plants for 50 cents to $5 each. All the money goes into the park.
Every month, Kay sent out a call for master gardeners to go work in the park – pulling weeds, fertilizing, mulching, trimming – doing all those chores they barely have time to do in their own gardens. But when Kay lays a hand on your shoulder, there’s no resisting, probably because everyone wants such a good friend.
Tom and Kay recently moved from Augusta to be closer to their son in south Georgia. Last week, friends and fellow supporters of Pendleton King Park surprised the Millses with a special reception. There were speeches and presents and more than a few tears.
It’s sad to see them go. But we were very, very lucky to have shared their friendship for a time.