GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The crowd of 30 who attended the recent Arbor Day celebration at the Green Cove Springs Public Library didn’t show up for just for the trees.
Government officials, friends and family members remembered Norma Jones, a well-admired librarian and avid gardener in the community. She died last April at 92.
An Arizona Blue Ice Cypress was planted in her memory. Care Valleau, Garden Club of Green Cove Springs president, said it was fitting Jones’ tree was planted next the Magnolia that looms above the library that was planted in 2008 for Arbor Day, a ceremony Jones attended.
“Her life to our community has been a blessing,” Valleau said.
For a city to earn and keep its designation as a “Tree City,” it has to meet four requirements:
maintain a city tree board or department, a public tree care ordinance, a community forestry program and hold a city-proclaimed Arbor Day celebration annually. This year marks Green Cove Springs’ 30th year with the designation.
Library Branch Manager Jennifer Parker said Jones’ activity was as energetic as it was varied. Jones worked with the Early Florida Village at the Clay County Agricultural Fair, the Clay County Historical Society, the garden club, the Village Improvement Association, in addition to serving 28 years with the county library system.
“This particular type of tree was well chosen because Norma’s was a life well and truly lived, the impact of which can still be felt through so many enterprises for which she was there at the start, labored so faithfully and for which she would be glad to see continue on to the benefit to her community,” Parker said.
Norma Jones began as a clerk at the library in 1964 and Parker spoke about how Jones had been with the library system in its infancy. Parker said Jones touched children’s hearts and minds with the books she bought for the library and programs she presented
“The Green Cove Library was in a storefront on Walnut Street with a collection of materials that have been donated by the VIA in 1961,” Parker said. “Librarians became leaders within the system with Norma’s guidance. Much like dropping a stone in a pond, the effects of her efforts ripple out to the lives we serve.”
Norma Jones’ son Ronald Jones told the crowd for years his mother was known for an impeccable yard at her Myrtle Avenue home. She was honored by the city and other organizations for her lawn numerous times.
“When she received a lifetime achievement award, she was relieved she could be excluded from future competitions,” Ronald Jones said as the crowd laughed. “She just laughed and went on working in her yard.”
Even when Norma Jones broke her hip in 2009, she worked on her lawn while in a wheelchair. Her son said she would have appreciated the tree planting.
“She would have loved a tree planted in her honor. She also said, ‘Any shrub or tree you planted made a yard more beautiful,’ Ronald Jones said. “I know whenever we see this tree, to each of you who made this tribute to Norma happen, she would have been delighted. Thank you on behalf on the family.”