A legacy of beauty: TJC gardens serve as living tributes

Feb 29, 2016 by

The Tyler Junior College campus is known for its beautiful architecture surrounded by verdant grounds and gardens. The gardens are privately funded and provide a wonderful enhancement to TJC’s campus for students, faculty and community visitors. Two recent estate gifts are providing a legacy of beauty that will bloom in perpetual memory of those who gave.

Ina Pearl Riggs Brundrett

Ina Brundrett was one of the original members of the TJC Botanical Gardens advisory committee that helped develop a master plan for a series of gardens on the main campus.

Ina Brundrett

Ina Brundrett

The project focuses on developing gardens that utilize unused space and serve as educational attractions for enjoyment of students, faculty, staff and visitors. Naud Burnett, a renowned landscape architect from Dallas, designed the original master plan.

Ina’s passion for azaleas resulted in the first garden at TJC, the Ina Brundrett Azalea Garden, established in 1995 due to her generous contribution and matching funds from Exxon Mobil Foundation. Over time, with Ina’s continued gifts and leadership, the garden has been expanded twice and is now included in Tyler’s annual Azalea Trails. It features more than 175 varieties of azaleas, including the largest display of Encore Azaleas planted in drifts in East Texas.

“Mother’s life was spent with Texas Garden Clubs, which focus on education and beautification,” said Lynne Maddox, Brundrett’s daughter. Ina’s Tyler backyard was declared a wildlife habitat by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation.

“She set up scholarships with TJC, the Boy Scouts of America, Texas Garden Clubs
and numerous educational facilities in Texas all meant to further the education of young people.”

Her wish was to maintain and grow the Brundrett Azalea Garden at TJC, so she provided a generous bequest in her will.

“The East Texas soil is perfect for growing azaleas,” Maddox said. “She was very pleased when a donor gave a number of azalea plants to be placed in the garden. She never said what her favorite variety was, but she loved bright pinks.

“It was her hope and mine that TJC maintain the garden and improve it as the years go on. She would want to see it flourish and be a source of beauty to the college and the City of Tyler.” Ina Brundrett passed away in June 2015. Her estate gift funds an endowment that will ensure the continuation of her work on the TJC campus and the horticultural education emphasis that was so important to her.

Mary Gayle Smith

Mary Gayle Smith left a significant planned gift through a Charitable Remainder Trust to establish an endowment for the preservation and

Mary Gayle Smith

Mary Gayle Smith

growth of all the gardens at Tyler Junior College. In addition, one specific garden will honor her late son, Stewart, an East Texas landscaper who left a living impression on the community.

The garden area featured at the entrance of TJC’s Center for Earth & Space Science Education will be named for Smith. This area features native Texas plantings and includes educational plazas surrounding the facility. These include the Niblack Family sundial built with Texas granite, which displays the theory of analemma, and the phases of the moon scored in concrete. The plazas frequently host events for the center, including community stargazing.

Longtime friend Carol Lott met Mary Gayle when they took the same cruise to the Caribbean. They remained friends and traveled together for 15 years, until Mary’s death in 2013.

“Her yard was an oasis of plants, benches, statues and yard art,” Lott said. “She always had fresh flowers throughout her home and was passionate about gardens and bringing outdoor beauty inside.”

Lott was unsure whether Mary Gayle’s passion inspired her son or the other way around. Either way, it was a deep family interest.

“Stewart was the light of Mary’s life,” said Lott. “She was so proud of his accomplishments in landscaping. He lived in the Azalea District, loved antiques and beautiful furnishings and built lasting relationships with the people whose gardens and lawns he tended. Mary would hope that TJC students would see the gardens and develop an appreciation for the art of gardening.”

Passionate giving

Giving through planned or deferred gifts can significantly impact Tyler Junior College and its students. It is also a way to continue a lifetime passion and pass it on to future generations, as Ina and Mary Gayle have done through their legacy of beauty. There are many ways to establish such gifts to maximize funding and support specific interests.

For more information about planned and deferred giving, contact Mitch Andrews at (903) 510-2034 or mand@tjc.edu.



News, Winter 2016

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