May 20, 2009 Edition

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Brent Garner and Lauren Weitkamp were married Saturday in the first wedding held at the Alice French Memorial Gardens at the old Clover Bend School.
TD Photo ~ Frank M. Witowski Jr.

First wedding held
at Alice French gardens

Frank M. Witowski Jr.
Staff Writer

Lauren Weitkamp and Brent Garner held their wedding at the Alice French Memorial Gardens on Saturday evening at 6. It was the first wedding to be held in the garden, located on the grounds of the old Clover Bend School, which now serves as a museum and community center.

Lauren's grandmother, Roydell Tucker, graduated from Clover Bend High School in 1965, but would never have expected to attend her granddaughter's wedding last Saturday on the same property of her old stomping grounds.

Tucker says the Alice French Memorial Garden, where her granddaughter Lauren was married, is the same spot of the old elementary school. "I graduated in 1965, and we've always been pleased that they restored the (high) school," Roydell said. "All my family graduated here. I never thought my granddaughter would get married here."

After enjoying family Christmas suppers on the school grounds and admiring the new garden, Lauren Weitkamp had decided she wanted to get married there.

Clover Bend native Viola Meadows could not be more pleased to see the first wedding take place at Alice French Memorial Gardens. Meadows, a 1943 graduate of the school, said the new outside garden area was created with granted monies that were generated a few years ago from the state.

"It's wonderful," Meadows said. "The Alice French Memorial Garden is another feather in the cap of Alice French, who was a popular short story writer in the late 1800s."

According to Meadows, French traveled with Theodore Roosevelt and other famous individuals across the globe.

Meadows was very influential in obtaining grant money to restore the school many years ago. Tucker said Meadows made several trips to Little Rock petitioning the state legislature regarding the important historical value of the site.

Meadows said she began attending Clover Bend High School in 1939, which was the first year the high school was open. Meadows recalled that it was built in 1937 as a government revitalization project to bring in families to the area. Meadows said she has worked so hard to see her old school kept alive because she accredits her success in life to attending school there as a youngster.

Meadows said the garden and pavilion are available for weddings and special occasions, and she hopes that Lauren and Brent's wedding will be the first of many special events held in the garden.

The bride, the former Lauren Deshae Weitkamp, is a 2007 Hoxie High School graduate. She is enrolled in the radiologic technology program at Arkansas State University.

The groom, Brent Edward Garner, is a 2006 Hoxie graduate and has also graduated from the automotive service technology program at Black Rock Technical College.

Lauren is the daughter of Renee Tucker of Hoxie and Kevin and Nicole Weitkamp of Pocahontas and the granddaughter of Junior and Roydell Tucker of Hoxie and Bill and Sharon Weitkamp of O'Kean.

Brent is the son of Chuck and Chris Garner of Walnut Ridge and the grandson of Hank Townsley of Walnut Ridge and the late Margaret Townsley and Betty Garner of Jonesboro and the late Frank Garner.

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