Celebrating 99 Safely but with Style

Socially distant and fully masked, Bedford Garden Club members gathered to celebrate Jo Champney’s 99th birthday – Click to view a larger image


Celebrating 99 ~ Jo Champney

Tucked into the corner of the ell at Bedford’s 1713 Job Lane House, a memorial herb garden dedicated to former owner Lillian Dutton has been lovingly cared for by Josephine “Jo” Champney and a devoted crew from the Bedford Garden Club since 1978.

Observing proper social distancing, face coverings, and the 10-person limit, the herb garden crew and Garden Club members celebrated Jo’s 99th birthday on April 30, 2020.

Cars gathered in a nearby parking lot and tooted along to Champney’s house bringing lunch from the Great Wall, ice cream, cake, and spider mums in her favorite color, lavender.

Stepping onto her front porch as the parade stopped in front of her house, Champney wondered aloud, “What have you done now?”

Former Garden Club president and club historian Susan Wingfield remembered, ” Jo Champney has been an active member of the Bedford Garden for over 60 years, and has been an honorary member for over 40 years.  She has served as Club Treasurer, Secretary, and Vice President.  She has been on many committees — Horticulture, Programs, Civic, and Yearbook Cover (her yearbook covers were made using pressed leaves and ferns). For many years she wrote the gardening tips for our newsletters, and we continue to use many of her tips in our newsletters today.” Click this link to read Wingfield’s full text

“I admire [Jo] most for her quiet dedication to the herb garden, and thereby to Bedford,” said Dorothy Africa. “She has worked all these years quietly with dedication and expertise, so it is high time she got some recognition for her work, not just for making it to 99.”

A high bar has been set for next year’s celebration.

Volunteers from the Bedford Garden Club work with Jo Champney (second from left) to maintain the Job Lane Herb Garden. Pictured (l-r) Bridget Clayton, Claire Higson, Kathryn Rifkin, Jo Champney, and Jeannette Pothier.


In one of its earliest articles, The Bedford Citizen celebrated Jo Champney and the herb garden. Click this link to read Dot Bergin’s 2013 report.


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