On Monday, March 28, the Willetts family and friends gathered to dedicate one of those benches. It is located a few yards south of the Keith and 25th Street intersection nestled under a large tree and facing Mouse Creek.
One side of the bench honors the memory of Matt Willetts who passed away in 1993. Matt enrolled at Lee University in the early 1980s and was known for his quick wit and creative talents which won him many friends. He eventually became a youth minister at a local church here in town and before his death from cancer at age 33, he touched thousands of lives.
The other side of the bench honors Matt's parents, David and Louise Willetts, who were known for their pastoral lives, ministering in churches and always welcoming visitors into their homes. They were true examples of Christian servanthood.
Among the family who gathered on March 28 were daughters/sisters Denise Mendel who with her husband Kevin, pastor Grace Community Church here in Cleveland; Amy Nitz, who drove from Florida with her husband David; and Melanie Willetts who has lived in Cleveland since her graduation from Lee. Among David and Louise's several grandchildren who attended that day was Phillip Nitz, a student at Lee and a member of the Voices of Lee when they made their dramatic run on the NBC talent search “The Sing Off.” The current version of Voices sang an impromptu song before David Nitz said a prayer of dedication for the bench. Nitz prayed that the bench would be a source of relaxation and respite for those who needed it along the Greenway.
The Willetts bench is no different than the others that have been placed on the linear park over the last 10 years. A vast majority of benches along the Greenway honor loved ones and the donors represent a true cross-section of our community. Each bench carries a level of sentimentality for the person or persons who purchased it and, like the Willetts, is seen as a symbol of honor and gratitude.
Each bench purchased in the last year includes a poured cement pad. With the construction of Phase V of the Greenway happening this summer, there will be several opportunities for new benches. In anticipation of future benches, six pads were poured during construction of Phase IV between Tinsley Park and Mohawk Drive and they await the gifts of generous individuals and organizations. In this latest delivery was three benches donated by BB&T which will be the first ones to be placed on Phase IV.
For more information about benches and other giving opportunities on the Greenway visit www.cbcgreenway.com and click on the “Supporting the Greenway” tab. To inquire by email, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.