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SBU dedicates Judy Taylor garden, PT Faculty Practice

BOLIVAR, Mo. — Southwest Baptist University held a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony for the Judy Taylor Physical Therapy Garden and the Warren B. Davis Family Physical Therapy Center Faculty Practice on Oct. 6 at the facility at 2103 S. Springfield Ave., Bolivar.

The 2,700-square-foot Faculty Practice will be a student-learning lab that utilizes select patients from the surrounding community, incorporates high-level care for patients and provides invaluable learning experiences for students.

The Faculty Practice will serve two purposes for patients in the Bolivar area, said SBU President C. Pat Taylor, Ed.D., “to help people improve their health and to be a teaching facility.” departments, including SBU’s social work program, will be working with patients to provide holistic care. Innovative equipment, such as the Enliten LLC Open Area Support System (OASUS), will help patients receive proper care in the practice. The open-spaced clinic includes two treatment rooms, a sports performance area and consultation rooms.

Dr. Steve Lesh, chair and professor of physical therapy, approached Dr. Taylor with the idea of developing a physical therapy rehabilitation garden to honor SBU’s late first lady Judy Taylor. Funds were raised, “and today, here we are,” Dr. Taylor said. “I guarantee you Judy Taylor would love this.”

The garden was built to assist patients with gait difficulties by incorporating a variety of terrains, ramps and walking paths. The garden is located in front of the Davis Family Physical Therapy Center.

Valerie Waddell, a second-year doctor of physical therapy student and SBU Ambassador, helped care for Judy Taylor, who battled a rare neurological disease, for a few months during 2014. Waddell described her time with Judy as “inspiring and invaluable.”

“She was the most gracious person that I could have asked for,” Waddell said, “to be someone that I was able to care for. She inspired me to become what I want to become. She was a key part in me pursuing my future career as a physical therapist. She inspires me to work hard for what I want and to pour out myself for what I believe in. I could just imagine that she would be out here every week weeding the garden and making it more beautiful because that’s what she loved to do.”

Lesh, whose vision was sparked by Judy Taylor’s dedication to the beautification of the SBU campus, described his impressions of Judy’s “culture of beautification.”

“The amazing thing about it is that she just wouldn’t talk about it, she would get down in the dirt and make it happen,” Lesh said. “I loved the dedication, I loved the, I loved the energy. I loved the fact that she would both lead and serve, by getting down on her knees and pulling weeds.”

The garden will also be certified as a monarch butterfly way station.

“The butterfly way station is a fitting way to honor Judy for several reasons,” said Dr. Brad Johnson, vice president for university relations. “Number 1, like the monarch, she was a wonderful spirit – beautiful, both inside and out. And like the monarch, she invested sacrificially to make a better path for those who would follow her. Without question, Judy has left a lasting legacy and lives have been forever changed because of her influence.

“And finally, the butterfly is a symbol for Christian life. Judy knew that death here on earth was indeed not the end. For those of us who know Christ as our Savior will pass from this shell – a chrysalis – into something even more beautiful in eternity.”

Dr. Taylor said that Judy loved beauty that served a function.

“Judy believed that everything should have a function,” Taylor said, “and this garden is beautiful, but it does have a function. And I’m very pleased that the very first patient that went through a rehab assignment here was her good friend, Ronda Credille. Most of you know Ronda and the injury she suffered and how valiantly she has fought through that. And I know Judy was smiling when she saw Ronda here.

“Judy would be thrilled with this and she would want it to help people.”


CUTLINES: 1. The monument at the Judy Taylor Physical Therapy Garden.

2. Drew and Luke Austermann, grandchildren of SBU President Dr. C. Pat Taylor, cut the ribbon for the Judy Taylor Physical Therapy Garden. Dr. Taylor's daughters, Charla Austermann and Marijo Gronewold also are pictured.