Town Crier News Staff
The Rodman Community Prayer Garden dedication service was held Oct. 14. The prayer garden, located at the Leachville Methodist Church, was made possible by the children and grandchildren of Dr. and Mrs. T.N. Rodman to honor them. The beautiful, serene garden is a gift from the Rodman family to the church and community.
Pastor Donnie Hudson of the Leachville United Methodist Church was the carpenter for the prayer bench and arbors and the design and landscaping was by Bennett's Nursery and Garden Center in Jonesboro. The brick walkway was made from bricks taken from the Rodman Hospital which served the area for many years. The garden features a waterfall, prayer bench, brush arbor, and is open to anyone to visit and meditate.
It is most beautiful at night with lighting along the pathway, on the waterfall, prayer bench and landscaping. A special plaque has been placed at the entrance of the prayer garden.
Since the garden is located across from Howard Funeral Service in Leachville, it is the hope of the Smiths, owners of the funeral home, and the Rodmans that the garden will be a place of comfort and peace for families and friends who have lost loved ones.
Dr. and Mrs. Rodman moved to Leachville just after World War II. The Batesville native had been in Newport for several months when a friend of Dr. Rodman's asked him to open a practice in Leachville. Mrs. Rodman said their future plans included staying in Leachville a few years. Dr. Rodman bought a hospital and Leachville became their home.
Brother Hudson welcomed everyone to the dedication service with Brother Bobby Austin, a family friend, offering the opening prayer. Tasker Rodman gave a welcome from the family.
A long-time friend of Dr. Rodman, Joe Wheeler, told about "Doc" stopping to visit him every morning when he finished his walk. After their visit, one of them would pray. When he finished praying, he would say "Now" and they would say the Lord's Prayer together. Wheeler asked the group to say the Lord's Prayer with him when he said "Now."
Leon Swihart shared his first memories of Dr. and Mrs. Rodman and told about "Doc's" contributions to the community. He called Dr. Rodman his hero.
Swihart's sisters, Betty Carter and Mary Schupbach, also shared their memories and called Mrs. Rodman their role model and while her contributions were not as visible as "Doc's", they were equally as significant. Ms. Carter read a poem she had written about Mrs. Rodman.
Grandchildren of the Rodmans, Jon and Jenn Sprinkle, presented special music, "The More I Seek You."
Brother Hudson read Matthew 26:36-46 and referenced Luke 22:39-46. He pointed out that Jesus often prayed in a garden and that prayer is communication with God which includes both talking and listening.
Tasker Rodman dedicated the prayer garden and presented a plaque to Brother Hudson, representing the church, and to Mayor Ralph Wells, representing the city of Leachville, with the hope that the people of the Methodist Church and the people of Leachville will use the garden as a sanctuary for prayer and worship.
Barbara Gonser played the piano and Ronnie Kennett led the singing during the service. A congregational hymn, "The Beautiful Garden of Prayer," was sung.
Greeters were Phyllis Bryant and Jo Smith.
The programs were designed by Dr. and Mrs. Rodman's granddaughter, Jenn Sprinkle.
A reception was held in the fellowship hall following the dedication ceremony. It was catered by Loretta's Catering to Your Needs, from Jonesboro.
Before Dr. Rodman died on July 19, 2003, he had begun working on writing his life story. He started by recording his memories on a tape recorder while driving back and forth to Blytheville to see his mother who was in a nursing home at the time. Then he began writing it on his computer with plans for a book. He had already given it the title, Then and Now.
His granddaughter, Brian Hyde and her husband, Chuck, copied all the information from "Doc's" computer and worked for three years compiling all of the information getting it ready for publication. They did not edit it. They left it as their "Big Daddy" had written it. After completion, Brian sent it to her cousin, Jenn Sprinkle, who designed a unique cover for the book featuring family photographs and had it published. Brian and Jenn surprised other family members by having copies made for each and presented them after the dedication service. Dr. Rodman is quoted as saying, "My purpose is to inform my six granddaughters how life was during my lifetime." Mrs. Rodman called the book a very special gift.
Dr. Rodman died before finishing his book. The Rodman family would like for the people of this area to help complete it. They are asking people who have a favorite story or memory of "Doc" to please write it down or record it on tape and send it to P.O. Box 160, Leachville, AR 72438. The stories will be greatly appreciated by the family.