The City of Douglas, Coffee High School Class of 1988, and various guests and officials posthumously honored the late Clayton Mathis during the city’s Camellia Garden Dedication ceremony held on Friday, February 16, at the Ashley Slater House. Stacey Roberson of the Class of 1988 handcrafted the bench pictured above in memory of Mathis, who had a special affinity for the camellia. Mathis’s wife Nedra and daughter Elizabeth are pictured above with city and county officials following the dedication ceremony. –Photo by Walter Jardine, Enterprise Sports Editor
Clayton Mathis Recognized At Dedication Of Camellia Garden On Georgia’s Camellia Trail At Ashley-Slater House
The City of Douglas hosted the Camellia Garden Recognition and Bench Dedication ceremony this past Friday, February 16, at the Ashley Slater and honored the late Clayton Mathis, a Camellia enthusiast whose love for growing the beautiful flower was well-known by all those who knew him and even some who did not.
Douglas Mayor Pro Tem Kentaiwon Durham provided the welcome introduction at the event, and Carol Selph, Secretary of the Atlantic Coast Camellia Society, discussed the history of the camellia.
Lori Hennesy, Tourism Project Manager for the Magnolia Midlands Travel Association followed and spoke about Georgia’s Camellia Trail, which was introduced in 2017 for travelers to see 30 public camellia gardens across the state, including the Ashley Slater House.
Coffee County Superintendent Dr. Morris Leis spoke on behalf of the Coffee High School Class of 1988, who provided a handcrafted bench made by Stacey Roberson in honor of the late Mathis, an extremely popular, longtime educator and principal and Master Gardener. The bench, which has hand-carved camellias, reads, “In Loving Memory of Clayton Mathis.”
The handcrafted bench’s home is now in the city’s camellia garden.
Mathis’ wife, Elizabeth, spoke on behalf of her family and detailed her and her husband’s love for the flower. The couple traveled many miles to various camellia shows, and Mathis, who never met a stranger, was a favorite at the shows, as he was here in Douglas and Coffee County.
Reverend Don Dilley of First Presbyterian Church provided the blessing of the garden, and several city and county officials spoke to close the event.
The city would like to thank the Douglas Garden Club for their sponsorship of arrangements at the ceremony and to the Class of 1988 for the memorial bench honoring Mathis. –Please see page 2-A for more photos from the ceremony.