Girl Scouts revive Fetner Gardens

Dr. Jim TumblinFeature, Fountain City

When Herbert W. Fetner updated his will on May 20, 1957, he included this clause, “… my home on Kesterwood Drive (originally known as Hickory Lane Road) is to go to St. Paul United Methodist Church provided they use it as a parsonage and maintain a garden in memory of my wife.”

Thanks to Girl Scout Troop 20628, which meets at the church, and to Girl Scout Emma Howard, Central High School sophomore, the garden is experiencing a revival.

Patty Fetner Memorial Garden. When he willed the house and lot to St. Paul’s United Methodist Church for their parsonage, Herbert Fetner requested this perpetual garden in memory of his wife. (Photograph submitted)

Emma thought of the project about a year ago, and since that time the troop has spent many hours weeding and cultivating, planting many new flowers, mulching the garden and adding decorative fencing and pavers.

The troop members met at the garden last Saturday morning, and scout leader Dennise Howard conducted a re-dedication ceremony for the garden. Then, in a poignant bridging ceremony, Madalyn Marshall bridged from Cadette to Senior Scout as she prepares to enter high school, and Katelyn Turner was bridged to Adult because she has graduated from high school.

But the story does not end there. Well into the project, the Rev. Sarah Varner, pastor of the church, was perusing an article in her parsonage files that appeared in the local paper upon the death of Mrs. Paxson “Patty” Bye Fetner (1895-1954). She found that Mrs. Fetner was not only an avid gardener and a long-time member of the Fountain City Garden Club, she had also organized the Westmoreland Garden Club which dedicated its first yearbook to her.

Also, the article revealed an even more interesting fact in these words, “For many years Mrs. Fetner was identified with Girl Scout work and a silver loving cup, inscribed for her leadership of ‘Troop 5 outstanding troop in Knox County for 1924-25-26’ attests to her interest in scouting.”

Although they had no children, both husband and wife were deeply interested in working with youth. Herbert was a district Boy Scout commissioner and visited numerous local troops where he would entertain the scouts with his imitation of bird calls and make enthralling nature talks.

This special project of Girl Scout Troop 20628 is an outstanding example of the thoughtful deeds that make Fountain City such a special place to live.

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