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From left: Deanna McLaughlin, Faye Pavelka of the Troy Garden Club and the Jeans family: Jeanie, Sarah and Lance. Photo by Nick Skoda

The yards that the Troy Garden Club picks for its Yard of the Month Award are always layered and beautifully maintained, obviously lush with the care poured into them.

But the July Yard of the Month has a little more to it.

The yard belongs to the Jeans family: Jeanie, Lance and Sarah.

The yard, with an immaculately cared for lawn, beautiful flowers, shrubs, lawn adornments, water features and even a gazebo, is dedicated to the memory of their late daughter Catherine, who passed away from a rare form of adult Leukemia a few days after her fifth birthday in 2003. 

“We wanted to do something to remember her by and for people to be able to remember her by,” Lance said.

And Catherine loved being outside, so what could be a better memorial than a garden?

“She played in the creek, that’s why we decided on down there. She used to play in the creek, looking for dinosaur bones, and there is a big dinosaur bone in the garden,” Jeanie said.

Not a real dinosaur bone, the Jeans assured. 

“That was where the idea came from, that she played in the creek,” Lance said. “We had a master plan, but we didn’t really follow the master plan.”

Jeanie’s dad was instrumental in getting the project started and his ashes are buried in the yard as well.

Catherine’s memorial garden is so pretty and scenic that couples have gotten married there, and people take wedding and prom photos there.

The Jeans joked that sometimes they’ll arrive home to complete strangers utilizing the lush backdrop of Catherine’s memorial garden for photos.

After Catherine passed, the Jeans did a lot of work to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and raised what they estimated to be upwards of $150,000.

The Jeans also awarded $35,000 in Catherine’s name in scholarships to Ellsberry graduates the year that Catherine would have graduated high school.

“The goal has always been to keep her memory alive,” Jeanie said. 

She mentioned the little cow that is in the yard, as one of the little reminders.

If you come the back way into to the Jeans’ home, you go past the Schultz farm, where there were lots of cows.

“When Lance would take Catherine the back way, he’d always say look at Jim’s cows. Then Jim heard about it and told Catherine that he had named the black and white cow after her. They are all black and white. So she always liked to find her cow. After she passed, someone donated a little black and white cow,” Jeanie said.

The Jeans couldn’t list how many people had contributed to the garden, as there have been so many over the years.

The garden is always a work in progress for the Jeans, with little bits being added here and there and the way the community continues to pitch in to keep the garden and yard up shows that Catherine isn’t far from the heart.

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