(BEDFORD) - Members, former members and friends of the Bedford Hiking Club gathered Oct. 15 at Wilson Park following their walk from Thornton Park to memorialize the club's founder, Barbara Newberry, by dedicating a limestone bench in her honor.
The group was also joined by Newberry's son, John, who was remembered by many of the club's long-time members.
Jeff Routh of the Times-Mail reports that Kay Emery, who was one of three people to respond to Newberry's call for hikers, led the dedication.
"I showed up that Saturday morning in March of 1987," Emery said. "But I had other things on my agenda and I couldn't stay. I told Barbara I was very interested and to keep me posted. She later told me she thought as I was driving away, 'I'll never see that one again.' Well, here I am all these years later and the other two aren't."
Newberry, who moved to the Bedford area because of her job associated with Crane, had a true love of hiking. She put a notice in the Times-Mail and asked if others were interested in forming a club to meet at Wilson Park on that Saturday morning. She was encouraged by the fact that somebody showed up, so she proceeded to form the club, under the auspices of the Bedford Parks and Recreation Department.
The group met for hikes the first and third Saturdays of the month. The first Saturday hikes were shorter, 3-5 mile hikes. The third Saturday hikes were 5 to 12 miles with participants taking a sack lunch and the group eating together somewhere along the trail.
The club has continued walks over the years, mostly on Mondays, but for a time on Mondays and Wednesdays. The group now meets weekly on Mondays for regular hikes, Thursdays for longer hikes and some Saturdays for Volksmarches in Indiana and surrounding states.
Emery recalls going with Newberry to a hike in May of 1987 at Clifty Falls State Park near Madison.
"That's where she discovered Volksmarching," Emery said. "She immediately signed us up to be a Volksmarch Club, writing a check out of her personal account to get us started. We had our first Volksmarch in September of 1987. There were 315 walkers with 135 of the walkers from Bedford."
In addition to her love of walking, Newberry was a devout Christian, spending time in God's word on a daily basis and always having a Bible with her when she traveled, Emery said. She also exercised regularly, ate healthy and loved to snow ski. She was also fond of horses and enjoyed horseback riding.
She was involved in and started a Toastmasters Club in Bedford, and she and Marybelle Dwyer also began a welcoming service for new residents of Lawrence and Monroe counties. She enjoyed bike riding and traveling, too.
"She was always up for a trip," Emery said. "She was ready to anywhere, in or outside the state for hiking, bicycling or skiing. We attended Volkmarching and AVA conventions together."
Since the club was founded under the Bedford Parks and Recreation Department and the organizational meeting took place at Wilson Park, when the club decided to memorialize Newberry, who died Oct. 4, 2011, it was fitting and proper that Wilson Park be the spot of the memorial.
The club worked with Mike Mitchell and Jimmy Jones of the parks department. The department poured the concrete pad that acts as a foundation for the bench. Greg Norman and employees of Hoosier Cut Stone fabricated the bench and placed it on the foundation, which is near the spot that the first group assembled 25 years ago. The location is also on the route of the Limestone Year 'Round event that is sponsored by the club.
In dedicating the bench, Emery closed saying, "So, Barbara, in loving memory, we dedicate to honor you with this beautiful stone bench. May you ever be in our memories, with fondness and gratitude. Thank you for being you, dear friend and fellow hiker. Amen."
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