Church garden a growing memorial

Nearly every plant at First Methodist Church’s Memorial Garden in Newton has a story behind it.

Gail and Norris McRee have planted most of those memories.

The McRees, who have been married for 52 years, are largely responsible for starting the church’s memorial garden and celebration area, which is located just off Main Avenue in Newton.

The garden, they say, exists to first and upmost honor God.

However, as you walk over memorial stones inscribed with the names of family and loved ones lost, it’s clear the garden stands for something else, too. Benches, fountains, statues, trees — nearly everything in the garden is representative of someone or something.

One of those memories is the McRees' own.

Abigail McRee Butterfield, the McRees' daughter, died of breast cancer in 2005. She is largely the reason the longtime husband and wife started the garden project about five years ago.

To read more of this story, pick up the weekend print edition of Catawba County's community newspaper, The Observer News Enterprise, at newsstands throughout the county.