Florida Southern College to Dedicate Newly Restored Garden Enjoyed by Generations
Evelyn and Warren Willis Garden of Meditation
Historic Garden is Named for Evelyn and Warren Willis
LAKELAND, Fla. (March 12, 2009) — Florida Southern College on Saturday will dedicate the Evelyn and Warren Willis Garden of Meditation. The ceremony, which begins at 1:30 p.m., will officially name the garden, with its restored Hindu-style temple and reflecting pool, after a Methodist youth leader and his wife.
The late Rev. Warren Willis, director of youth work for the Florida Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, graduated from FSC in 1938. He built the conferences camping program in Florida, and today the Methodist youth camp in Leesburg is named for him.
Mrs.Willis also graduated from the college with a teaching degree and taught at Padgett Elementary in Lakeland. She was an active member and junior choir leader at College Heights United Methodist Church, where she still attends.
The Hindu elements of the garden–a temple, two elephant statues, and a sacred cow statue–were donated to the College in 1938 by Dr. Frederick B. Fisher, a former Methodist bishop to India, who fell in love with the Florida Southern campus when he visited during Founders Week. Indian villagers whom Dr. Fisher had baptized carved the temple and gave it to him as a token of their gratitude for introducing them to Christianity.