The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

For the Star 

Tillie Wonder honored with dedication of pocket plaza in her name

The town's first lady of gardening has inspired decades of beauty and inspiration


October 25, 2017

Tony Gorman photo

Toby Wonder, left, Marci Robertson, and Chad Wonder, right, were on hand Sunday at the ceremony dedicating the new pocket plaza on S. Meals Ave. and N. Harbor Dr. in honor of Tillie Wonder.

Tillie Wonder is a woman who has lived up to her name - and she is now formally recognized in Valdez after city officials, friends and family and admirers gathered to dedicate the Tillie Wonder Plaza.

Known as the master of master gardeners in Valdez, Wonder's work has been enjoyed by all who have ventured through Valdez in the past 30 years and more.

Her special gift was bringing out the beauty of a town known for its snow-packed winters and short wet summers - and the beauty of flowers in a harsh environment is her specialty.

On Sunday, Wonder's work was honored with the dedication of the Tillie Wonder Pocket Plaza at the corner of South Meals Avenue and Harbor Drive. Wonder wasn't able to attend the ceremony but her sons, Toby and Chad, were in attendance

"I think she kind of became one with this town over time," Toby Wonder said. "I think to this day, on any given day, she's kind of mad at me because she wants to come back because she feels this is home and feels the most happy."

Mayor Ruthie Knight, Marcie Robertson, acting director of the city's Parks and Recreation Dept., and Linda Guthrie presented her sons with framed copy of a resolution honoring their mother and a picture of the plaza.

Tony Gorman photo

Friends, families and admirers of Tillie Wonder gathered for a group photo to give to her at Sunday's dedication ceremony.

"It is a very nice honor. It was her passion. And, I think she felt that it was a reflection of herself and it was something that she really help mostly," Chad Wonder said.

Wonder was hired by the City of Valdez as one of its beautification contractors in 1998. She led the city's community gardening efforts until her retirement in 2015. Her talents were not limited to gardening. She also designed various signs and logos that have been used extensively throughout the city. She also displayed her love for gardening an author. She published "Gardening Through the Alaska Rainforest" which captured gardening in Valdez.

"I think she's super stoked on this. I showed her pictures and she's super happy about it," Toby Wonder said. "I know she's bummed that she couldn't be here I can't thank enough for everybody for coming out today. It's real honor for us and our family including her siblings who mostly came from here."


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