Scouts create memorial garden for volunteer

MILFORD – On an afternoon Linda Dobbins would have loved, a group of Amherst and Milford Girl Scouts wearing handmade fairy wings gathered on a hillside behind the First Congregational Church of Milford, where a small stone bench bore a simple inscrip­tion: Dedicated to Linda Dobbins, From Troop 12164.

Dobbins, a beloved Girl Scout volunteer and longtime troop leader, died at age 60 in May 2015 after a long battle with cancer. Friends and loved ones said Dob­bins was a true Girl Scout at heart and was well-known for hosting "fairy tale" and Hal­loween parties. An avid gardener, she was also a volunteer with the Milford and Amherst garden clubs.

Over the last several months, Junior Girl Scout Troop 12161 worked to ensure that Dobbins would be remembered for years to come. On June 8, the girls hosted a dedication ceremony for the Linda Dobbins Memorial Garden.

Troop leader Carol Tabakaru said the girls’ project featured personal touches, including two statues that once graced Dobbins’ own garden. Milford nurs­eries Trombly Gardens and Souhegan Gardens donated annuals, pe­rennials and soil.

Attended by commu­nity and church mem­bers, Girl Scouts and volunteers, family and friends, the ceremony included testaments from those who knew Dobbins best. Dobbins’ husband, Michael, a longtime Girl Scout volunteer, joined the girls in releasing sev­eral dozen monarch butterflies, while Jane Tessier, now a leader of one of Linda Dobbins’ former troops, said her friend and fellow volunteer was irreplaceable.

"It hasn’t been easy filling her shoes. We all loved her," Tessier said. "She’d play games with the girls and sing songs with them."

The Rev. Alex Gondola said the new garden, which features plant­ings to attract butterflies and other wild creatures, is a fitting tribute to the beloved troop leader.

"The butterfly is a symbol of new and renewed life," Gondola said. "We are eternally grateful for this beautiful garden."

A group sing-along of one of Dobbins’ favorite Girl Scout camp songs, "Princess Pat," concluded the ceremony.

Leaders said Dobbins would be proud of the girls, who earned their Girl Scout Bronze Award, the highest award a Junior Girl Scout can achieve, for their efforts.