Late Master Gardener remembered with memorial bench at Co-Lin

Published 2:22 pm Thursday, February 3, 2022

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NATCHEZ — The late Harvey Burton Tebbetts Jr., an original member of the Adams County Master Gardeners, was honored Thursday with the dedication of a bench bearing his name on Copiah Lincoln Community College’s Natchez campus.

Tebbetts, who is beloved by the close-knit community of master gardeners as well as many other friends and family members, died Dec. 31, 2020, at the age of 83 due to complications with COVID-19. He has been a Master Gardener since 2005.

His name will live on forever on an inscription on the memorial bench, which says, “Harvey Tebbetts, Adams County Master Gardener; He was married to Rita, but he belonged to all of us.”

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The bench sits on a hill by the college adjacent to the Co-Lin parking lot where the Master Gardeners have spent many early weekend mornings selling plants to the community during their annual plant sale.

The Master Gardener program, which is administered by the Mississippi State University Extension Service, trains individuals in the art of horticulture and related areas and provides a community where they can share tips.

The Adams County Master Gardener’s engage in numerous community projects, such as maintaining trails at Historic Jefferson College and The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, hosting education programs for local school students, maintaining a greenhouse in conjunction with their annual plant sale, maintaining a butterfly garden at Co-Lin and participating in the Farmer’s Market.

Approximately 30 Adams County Master Gardeners members and friends of Tebbetts gathered at Co-Lin amid cold and rainy weather to honor him at the dedication of the bench.

They shared memories of how Tebbetts was not only an active member of the organization, but was a friend to everyone he met along the way.

Many recalled how he used to embrace everyone, even if they were meeting for the first time.

“The very first time I met him, he said ‘give me a hug,’” said Adams County Extension Agent, Jason Jones. “It wasn’t just a hug, but a big strong bear hug. I always remembered him for that—how he always gave great hugs.”

Margaret Graves, president of the Adams County Master Gardeners, agreed.

“It didn’t matter if you were black, white, purple or didn’t even have a green thumb. You still got a hug,” Graves said.

While sharing a slide show of family pictures and memories, his wife, Rita Tebbetts, spoke of how her husband loved his family, his community and loved to dance—a lot.

Graves said Tebbetts was “a very special individual” who touched many lives while serving as a Master Gardener leader and has been an active member for more than 15 years. His death due to COVID was sudden, unexpected and saddened all of them, she said.

“He was always the very first to volunteer his time, and his little red truck, whenever we needed it. He was one of the half dozen Master Gardeners who represented us by going to district and state conferences. He served on the state board for several years.

“As for the quote on his plaque, that is just a tongue-in-cheek and crazy way to express our deep feelings for Harvey. He truly did belong to all of us.”