‘Place of peace’: Hospital garden honors Loy’s legacy


The legacy of the late Alma Lee Loy continues to grow, most recently with the dedication of a garden situated just outside the Post Chapel at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital to honor the beloved community leader.

“We are here this morning to dedicate our beautiful new garden to the First Lady of Vero Beach, Alma Lee Loy, a Vero Beach native who devoted herself to public service and philanthropy and her community,” said Dr. Greg Rosencrance, CCIRH president.

He noted that in addition to serving on the original Indian River Medical Center board from 1986 to 1992, Loy served on the hospital district board from 2007 to 2014. Additionally, she served as an Indian River County commissioner and on the boards of numerous organizations, including the United Way of Indian River County, Education Foundation, Environmental Learning Center and McKee Botanical Garden.

“Many Indian River County residents may not realize their lives are impacted daily in some way due to her life-long commitment and dedication to this community. Her achievements and legacy in Indian River County will live on for generations to come,” said Rosencrance. “This garden is to her memory, to her legacy. It embodies the past, it embodies the present, and it looks forward to growth for the future.”

One could sense a nod of approval from Loy during the intimate gathering of family members and contemporaries, who knew that her love for Vero’s native flora and fauna was second only to her passion for the community. A landscape architect has designed the space using indigenous plants and trees, with benches, rock features and a circular path.

Indian River County Hospital District executive director Ann Marie Suriano and chairwoman Marybeth Cunningham, both of whom called Loy a friend and mentor, are credited with the idea for the memorial garden as a space for people to sit amongst nature to relax and reflect.

“It’s supposed to be a place of respite for people. A beautiful place to be with somebody or get away,” said Cunningham. “Alma Lee gave so much to the community that we wanted to give something back to the community in her memory.”

Suriano added that a garden in Loy’s name was a fitting tribute given her longstanding connection to McKee Botanical Garden.

“She was an advocate for green spaces,” said Loy’s cousin Donna Morris. “Alma Lee once said, ‘You can never have too many parks.’ She always wanted to better the quality of life for everyone in Indian River County, and she was passionate about the hospital, so she would be very appreciative that something like this is done for the benefit of all.”

Especially, noted Morris, the pink hibiscus. “She really loved pink. She would be humbled but very gratified that such a lovely memorial has been created in her memory.”

“It’s a wonderful place for us to remember her,” added Loy’s goddaughter Bretton Jenks, a speech-language pathologist at CCIRH. “Especially because she was such a strong part of the hospital. That’s an important way to commemorate her and what she did here for the hospital.”

“This was a great way to pay tribute to someone who had such an impact on Indian River County and Vero Beach,” said Ralph Turner, CCIRH COO.

Attendees were gifted an orchid, plant much like those growing in the garden, as a remembrance of the ceremony and of Loy.

“We know many visitors, patients and caregivers will use it as a place of peace, as a place of tranquility, and as a place of reflection,” said Rosencrance.

Photos by Tania

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