Memorial garden on campus receives dedication

Photo courtesy of | The new memorial garden between Albers Hall and Logan Hall was dedicated this week. Monday celebrated the memorial’s dedication to Walter ‘Walt’ Bonvell, a grounds foreman and horticulturalist at Xavier 31 years ago.

The newly renovated green space behind Alter Hall has become a fast favorite of students since its completion early in the semester. This garden is more than a quiet place to study.

On Monday, alumni, students and friends gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Walter Bonvell Memorial Garden. Walt Bonvell was the grounds foreman and horticulturalist at Xavier for 29 years before he passed away peacefully at the age of 61 in 2015. Since his passing, Bonvell’s wife and current Xavier institutional research staff member Connie Bonvell has worked with the university to create a way to preserve his memory.

Bonvell incorporated the Jesuit value of reflection into his groundskeeping. As a part of the Center for Mission and Identity’s “How I Live the Mission” video series, Bonvell expressed how creating areas for students to reflect around campus was a top priority for him as a groundskeeper. Bonvell strived to make Xavier, in his own words, “a campus in a park.”

In the video interview, Bonvell mentions a specific area, the water fountains between Albers and Logan Halls.

Thanks to a donation from Joseph and Susan Pichler, the university was able to create a memorial garden in exactly this spot.

Young and old, physical plant staff and professors, Jesuits and of course, Bella the Beagle, gathered in the garden for the dedication ceremony. It was clear that Bonvell was well-loved. Father Michael Graham, president, offered a dedication speech focused on the sense of serenity that the memorial garden is intended to instill.

The area is designed to inspire remembrance of those that have gone before us, particularly Xavier staff and alumni. You can find a bowl by the water fountain filled with smooth black rocks and inscribed with the word “REMEMBER.”

Following a Jewish tradition, all are encouraged to take a rock from the bowl and add it to the pile surrounding the water fountain to commemorate someone you have lost.

On the next beautiful day, take a chance to go and study in the memorial garden. And in the memory of Walt Bonvell, don’t forget to reflect and be thankful for someone who has left this world before you.

By: Heather Gast ~Guest Writer~