Margie Cline, widow of the late Pierce Cline, and Student Government Association President Leanna Whitaker cut the ceremonial ribbon during the dedication of the Pierce Cline Memorial Garden on the Georgia Perimeter College Newton Campus Wednesday afternoon. The Cline family was present to celebrate the dedication of the garden in honor of Pierce Cline, who was pivotal in securing the land where Georgia Perimeter College’s Newton campus is located. (Special Photo: Bill Roa)
COVINGTON – Georgia Perimeter College Newton Campus educators, students, staff and community members gathered at the school Wednesday to dedicate a garden in memory of the late Pierce Cline, who was pivotal in securing the property on which the campus is located.
Cline, who died in November 2012, left a legacy that includes founding scholarships and supporting programs for disadvantaged youth along with contributing land for GPC of Newton. He additionally worked as a real estate developer and frequently donated to charitable causes.
Located in front of the school’s 1N building, the Pierce Cline Memorial Garden will serve as a gathering spot and place of recreation for the GPC community and students. The dedication was part of the college’s annual Daffodil Festival.
“This garden will be a place where they can relax and enjoy nature — do their math homework — and be with their friends,” said GPC math professor Sally Pascal. “Fifty years from now, long after many of us are gone, students might not remember exactly who Pierce Cline was. But this space will remind them that he was special, and a wonderful friend to the first students at Georgia Perimeter College’s Newton Campus.”
Jeff Tarnowski, GPC vice president of Institutional Advancement, recalled Cline’s philanthropy and community advocacy.
“To me, the spirit of Pierce is that we did this together,” said Tarnowski. “Isn’t that what Pierce was really all about? Getting people to work together toward something that was going to benefit everybody.”
Cline’s widow Margie Cline, daughter and granddaughter were also at the ceremony. Daughter C. Marie Cline held back tears as she said how pleased her father would be had he been present.
“I know that he’s looking down and is really pleased with everything that’s going on at Georgia Perimeter College, as well as having a beautiful garden in his remembrance,” she said.
In his commemoration speech, GPC President Rob Watts compared the similarities between a garden and a college when referring to GPC Student Government Association President Leanna Whittaker.
“A college is a garden, where good students like Leanna can bloom, blossom, grow and go on to someplace else,” said Watts. “And it’s so fitting for us, that on this land that was so dear to Pierce’s heart, that we are dedicating a garden on his behalf — which will continue for generations from now, as Sally said, to remind students of his spirit and his generosity of heart.”
Along with the GPC garden, Cline has had the Ga. Highway 11 bridge at exit 98 on Interstate 20 named in his memory. He also received a lifetime achievement award in October 2012 from Oxford College, from which he graduated in 1947.